By Dallas Rosevear
The Salt Lake Stingers won their second straight series Tuesday night, June 29, closing out the Tucson Sidewinders 3-1 in Tucson.
The Stingers were led by starting pitcher Chris Bootcheck, who had another solid outing, holding the Sidewinders scoreless through seven innings while striking out eight batters to get the win. Bootcheck had experienced hard luck recently, pitching well in his previous four outings without getting a win.
Matt Hensley, who returned recently from a major league stint, pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings for the save.
Recently-returned Alex Pelaez provided the offensive firepower for the Stingers, driving in two runs. Wil Nieves also had an RBI in the third.
Since returning from the disabled list on Saturday, Pelaez is hitting .533 with six RBI. Pelaez attributed his strong performance of late to hard work during his rehabilitation.
“Hitting is the hardest thing to do in sports,” Pelaez said. “I hit everyday.”
Another Stinger who has provided an offensive boost for Salt Lake has been Adam Riggs. In the first three games of the series in Tucson, Riggs belted a home run, a double and two other hits to help the Stingers win the first two games against Tucson. Riggs said hitting success during the season has its highs and lows.
“All you can do is work, and try to limit the slumps,” he said.
The hitting roller coaster is “a fact of life,” Riggs said.
Despite a rough first half of the season and being in last place in the Northern Division in the Pacific Coast League, the Stingers have an optimistic outlook for the second half.
“We learned some valuable lessons,” Salt Lake manager Mike Brumley said. “We want to be real positive in the second half.”
The Stingers have won six of their last eight games and are feeling good about their prospects.
“The confidence is pretty high right now,” Riggs said.
The Stingers hope to maintain their momentum, qualify for the PCL playoffs and gain ground on the first-place Tacoma Rainiers.
The addition of new players to the roster for Salt Lake has provided a big spark for the team and contributed to the renewed enthusiasm for the second half of the season.
Third baseman Dallas McPherson, who is a new addition called up recently from the Double-A Arkansas Travelers, has been on a hitting tear the past week. In the last game of the series against the Las Vegas 51s last Friday, McPherson hit a triple with two runs batted in. Against the Sidewinders, McPherson slammed four home runs and a triple during the first three games. In the concluding game against the Sidewinders, McPherson cooled off, going 1-for-3 with two walks.
In addition to enhanced hitting by newcomers, the Stingers also welcomed back two pitchers this week from the parent club Anaheim Angels. Derrick Turnbow and Hensley returned and gave Salt Lake an immediate boost in the bullpen.
Salt Lake”s next series started in Edmonton Wednesday night, and the team will return to Salt Lake on Sunday to host Tacoma in a four-game series.