PASCO, Wash. — Ramon Perez set a career high with eight strikeouts over 5.2 shutout innings and Olivier Basabe powered the offense as the Dust Devils posted a 3-0 victory over the Everett AquaSox to open a three game series.
Perez, who turned 19 last week, showed better velocity than we saw last year, sitting 89-91 and touching 94 a few times. He also mixed in his curve and change effectively, using them everywhere in the count.
“The difference today was he worked ahead,” said manager Mike McCoy. “He had a good curve ball working and he was efficient with his pitches so he could pitch deeper into the game. In the past, he’s pitched well but his pitch count gets elevated so he’s got to get out in the fourth or fifth inning. It was nice to see him work more efficiently and give us some more length.”
Perez set the tone early, needing just 11 pitches to get through the first inning with a pair of strikeouts. In the third inning, he struck out the side even though he went 1-0 on all three batters. The Cuban lefty didn’t allow a runner until a leadoff single in the fourth. After an error on a pickoff attempt and a grounder moved the runner to third, Perez came back to strike out the third and fourth hitters in the lineup to strand the runner.
While Perez cruised, the offense made noise consistently. Luke Becker hit a booming one-out triple off the center field wall in the first but was stranded. In the second, Justin Paulsen drew a walk and Olivier Basabe laced a double inside the third base line before Mason House hit a grounder to plate the first run.
In the fourth, Paulsen singled on a slow roller against the shift before Basabe again doubled, this time on a sharp drive to the left field gap. Two innings later, the duo flipped roles as Paulsen doubled and then scored on a Basabe single to center.
“He’s really been swinging the bat well over the last four or five days,” said McCoy of Basabe. “He’s been hitting balls hard, consistently driving the ball. I’m feeling really confident when I put him in the line-up.
“It’s tough because I’ve got four middle guys, so I’ve got to rotate them. But a guy has a performance like that, I gotta run him back out there. I’ve got to let him try to ride out his hot streak.”
Basabe is a native of Venezuela, but came stateside for college, first at Indian Hills Community College and then Faulkner University. The Padres drafted him for a below-slot deal in the seventh round last summer. He’s played around the infield and saw some action in left field in the AZL last summer. A stout right-handed hitter, the 20-year-old is hitting .306/.364/.490 while playing a bit more than every other day this season.
The Tri-City bullpen continued a strong run for the club, completing their second combined shutout of the year. Spencer Kulman, who joined the team Friday, got the final out of the sixth with a runner on second, then struck out two in the seventh. Wen-Hua Sung followed in the eighth, relying on a split-fingered fastball to strike out the side in the eighth before Gabe Mosser worked a perfect ninth for his first save of the year.