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Record-setting performance by Daniel Ponce de Leon sends Rainiers to third straight win

Ponce de Leon struck out nine in a row to begin the game, and the most (12) for Tacoma since 2014
May 22, 2022

West Sacramento, CA (5/21/22) – The Tacoma Rainiers (15-26) won their third consecutive against the Sacramento River Cats (19-22) by a 10-6 final on Saturday night, and have won four of five this week in the California capital. It’s the first three-game win streak for Tacoma this season, and the

West Sacramento, CA (5/21/22) – The Tacoma Rainiers (15-26) won their third consecutive against the Sacramento River Cats (19-22) by a 10-6 final on Saturday night, and have won four of five this week in the California capital. It’s the first three-game win streak for Tacoma this season, and the Rainiers scored in seven of nine innings in Saturday’s victory.

The second batter of the game homered, in the form of Tacoma shortstop Mason McCoy (3-for-5, 3 R). His third of the year staked the Rainiers to an early 1-0 lead. It was 2-0 an inning later when Joe Odom (3-for-4, BB, 2 R) connected on his seventh home run, also a solo shot (right-center).

In the third, McCoy doubled his season total of homers entering the night, connecting again to left field for his fourth, as Tacoma “put up a fence” by blasting a solo shot in each of the first three innings.

Rainiers RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon opened the game with nine consecutive strikeouts (seven swinging), which is believed to be a Pacific Coast League record (to begin a game). Nine straight punchouts is a Tacoma Triple-A franchise record (since 1960).

Tacoma scored in a fourth straight inning in the fourth, after the River Cats lost the strike zone; when the bases were walked loaded, Alex Blandino (2 BB) drove in his first run as a Rainier against his former club, with another free pass. It was 5-0 after Erick Mejia trotted home on a wild pitch.

Ponce de Leon ended up throwing 78 pitches over five innings (50 for strikes), his only baserunners on a walk in the fourth and a Kevin Padlo single in the fifth. His 12 total strikeouts were most for a Rainiers starter since Taijuan Walker, who fanned 13 against Fresno on 8/10/14. Tacoma improved to 5-3 in Ponce de Leon starts, and as a staff the Rainiers struck out a season-high 17, surpassing their 14 on opening day (April 5 vs. Salt Lake). Lefty Nick Margevicius added three in 2.1 IP of work, fellow southpaw Fernando Abad whiffed two in the ninth.

Jarred Kelenic (3-for-5, 2 doubles) drove in a run in the sixth with a second bases loaded walk, for a 6-0 Tacoma lead. The big cushion made Sacramento’s tally in the home sixth easier to swallow – as a streak of 25 complete innings without the Rainiers allowing a run was snapped. Donovan Walton (single) reached second base on a walk and scored on a Jason Vosler RBI base hit.

Kelenic added on another with his third hit in the eighth, an RBI double off the wall in left field, scoring Marcus Wilson (single). McCoy (single) then scored from third on a Zach Green sac fly to center; the Sacramento-area native narrowly missed his 10th homer on the warning track. An Odom double down the left field line scored Kelenic for the eighth Rainiers run. Wilson also had two knocks, in a 14-hit Tacoma attack.

In a five-run River Cats eighth, Walton smacked a two-run homer, his second and first since joining Sacramento. The Cats went back-to-back with a David Villar solo shot (14). RBI singles by Isan Diaz and Ricardo Genoves were the fifth, sixth and final runs of the night for the home side.

In the ninth, Forrest Wall (2-for-4, 2 doubles) walked, stole second and third (16 stolen bases ranks second in the PCL), and scored Tacoma’s 10th and final run of the night on a McCoy sac fly, his third RBI.

The series finale will begin with a 1:05 p.m. PT first pitch on Sunday, at Sutter Health Park in West Sacramento. LHP Justus Sheffield will start for the Rainiers, against River Cats RHP Sean Hjelle.

Rainiers broadcaster Mike Curto will have full coverage on TacomaRainiers.com. All 2022 Rainiers games, home and away, can also be heard for free on the MiLB First Pitch app. HD video broadcasts of every home game can be viewed with a MiLB.TV subscription.

About the Tacoma Rainiers

The Tacoma Rainiers are the Triple-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners. The Rainiers are a member of the Pacific Coast League and have been a Mariners affiliate since establishing the Rainiers moniker in 1995.

The most up-to-date news and notes about the Tacoma Rainiers and Cheney Stadium can be found at WeRTacoma.com, or by following the Rainiers on Twitter (@RainiersLand), Instagram (@tacomarainiers) and liking the team on Facebook.