John Hicks was just trying to hit a fly ball.
The Tacoma Rainiers catcher was at the plate in the top of the eighth inning with his team leading Sacramento, 3-2. Runners were at first and third, and the Rainiers needed an insurance run.
Hicks did a little better than a sacrifice fly.
Sacramento’s Steven Okert left a pitch up in the zone, and Hicks launched it over the wall in left-center field for a three-run homer. The Rainiers went on to win, 7-3.
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“I was looking for something up, to drive to the outfield and get the runner in from third and keep out of a double play,” said Hicks. “He threw me a cutter and left it up, and I got it pretty good.”
It was the fourth home run of the season for Hicks, who has six hits in his past 12 at-bats.
“Hicks broke the game open in the eighth inning — it was a close game up until then,” Rainiers manager Pat Listach said. “We had a lot of good at-bats tonight.”
Hicks’ blast helped make a winner out of starting pitcher Sam Gaviglio, who continued his run of excellent starts.
While not as impressive as his eight shutout innings against New Orleans on Wednesday, Gaviglio (6-4) lasted six innings and gave up two runs at Sacramento. He struck out eight and did not walk a batter.
“He’s been throwing the ball great,” Hicks said. “His last three starts, he’s been putting the ball where he’s wanted to.”
The game was tied 1-1 going to the sixth inning when Jesus Montero led off with a single against Sacramento starter Ty Blach. With one out, Stefen Romero doubled to the left field corner, putting runners at second and third for Patrick Kivlehan.
Kivlehan lined a single to center, scoring both Montero and Romero to give Tacoma a 3-1 lead.
Tacoma has won back-to-back games, continuing a stretch of solid play.
The Rainiers have gone 8-3 over the past 11 games.
Blach (5-6) took the loss for Sacramento, allowing three runs in 51/3 innings.
Franklin Gutierrez went 2 for 4 to extend his hitting streak to 15 straight games. He’s batting .379 (22 for 58) during the streak. … Logan Bawcom pitched a perfect ninth inning and has allowed just one run in his last 17 innings pitched.
The series concludes with Tuesday’s game at 7:05. Tacoma starts Forrest Snow (3-4, 2.66 ERA) against Sacramento’s Clayton Blackburn (2-3, 4.50).