Yakima, Wash. -- The Gresham GreyWolves snapped a five-game losing streak and evened up the series vs. the Yakima Valley Pippins at one game each with an 8-5 victory behind four home runs on Thursday in Yakima, Washington.
Gresham scored four in the first inning off Yakima starter John Fuqua, capped by a two-run home run to center field by Alec de Watteville, his first of the season. Fuqua would allow another home run in the third inning, this time off the bat of Tyler Parker. Fuqua went six innings, allowing five runs (all earned) on eight hits while striking out six in a no-decision.
The Pippins spent much of the game trailing the GreyWolves, but were able to tie the score at five with a run in the fifth inning off Gresham starter Ryan Ward and two more in the sixth off reliever Daniel Caruso. Ward was shaky early, issuing three walks and hitting a batter in the first inning, but toughed out five innings while allowing three runs on five hits. He struck out six and walked five and did not receive a decision.
After the Pippins tied the score in the sixth inning off Caruso, both teams were held in check in the seventh inning. Leading off the eighth, Gresham's Ross Puskarich hit a home run off the top of the wall in left field. Puskarich originally stopped at second because he was unsure if the ball was ruled a home run or not. Seeing the signal from the umpires, Puskarich finished his home run trot after giving the GreyWolves a 6-5 lead in the eighth.
Caruso stranded a runner on third in the eighth, keeping Gresham's one-run lead intact. It would not matter, though, as the GreyWolves scored two more runs in the ninth inning. With a runner on second and one out in the ninth, Puskarich stepped into the right-handed batter's box and unloaded on the first pitch he saw from Yakima Valley's Liam Herlihy and sent the ball over the approximately 30-foot tall scoreboard beyond the 16-foot tall left-field wall to give Gresham an 8-5 lead.
With Puskarich's two home runs along with de Watteville's and Parker's solo shots, the GreyWolves hit four home runs in a game for the first time this season. The team's previous high was three on June 13 vs. Bellingham when Gresham hit three solo home runs in a 5-3 loss. The four big flies push Gresham's total to 12 on the season, two more than any other team in the West Coast League in 2017. The GreyWolves have hit nine home runs in the last five games. Gresham hit just 11 home runs all of last season.
Caruso struck out consecutive Pippins with the tying run at the plate to seal the GreyWolves' first win since June 9 in Kelowna, B.C. He threw four innings in relief of Ward, allowing two runs (both earned) on eight hits while striking out five and walking none. Caruso (1-0) picked up his first win of the season.
With the win, the GreyWolves improve to 6-8 on the season and gain a ground on the South Division-leading Corvallis Knights. Gresham is now 3.5 games out of first place and just 0.5 games behind the Pippins (5-6) in the South Division standings.
The GreyWolves look for a series win on the road on Friday at 7:05 p.m. when Gresham's Jarrod Billig (1-1) and Yakima Valley's Kade Woods (1-1) will face off on the mound. The game will be broadcast on mixlr.com/greywolves with the pregame show starting at 6:55 p.m.