It took Ty France until his 149th at-bat as a professional baseball player to hit his first home run.
The homer may have been a long time coming, but it came at the perfect time for France and his Tri-City Dust Devils.
The Dust Devils first baseman skied a two-out, two-run homer to left field in the seventh inning Sunday to snap a 3-all tie and vault T-C to a 7-3 Northwest League victory over the Spokane Indians.
“A lot of our (Northwest League) parks, at least our field, are not very hitter friendly,” the 6-foot-1, 205-pounder from San Diego State University said after sending the Indians to their third consecutive setback. “I finally got the monkey off the back. … Once it got up in the air I was like, ‘Yeah, I got it.’ ”
France, hitting third in T-C’s batting order, has kept up his average (.315) all year, but he’s never been a pure power hitter.
“I was a third baseman in college,” France said. “I’d have four or five (homers) every year, but never hit them in double digits. I’m more of a gap-to-gap kind of hitter.”
The Indians (4-7 for the second half of the NWL season) started with a bang, collecting four hits from the first five batters of the game.
LeDarious Clark led off with a double to left and moved to third on Darius Day’s bunt single. Dylan Moore followed with his fifth homer of the season, a three-run shot to left on a 0-2 count that gave him 27 runs batted in for the season.
After Sherman Lacrus’ one-out single, the Indians went the rest of the way with two singles.
“To me, after the long travel (from Vancouver, B.C.), it’s a lack of focus and not really having a very good plan,” Indians manager Tim Hulett said. “Moore hits the home run and then everyone thinks they’re home run hitters, I think. That’s not the plan. The plan is to go up there and have a good at-bat. If the pitcher makes a mistake and you put a good swing on it, then you hit it out. We need to be better.”
Dust Devils starter Adrian De Horta, who entered the game having allowed one earned run in 11 innings, shook off the poor first inning to work four more innings of one-hit ball.
“The game got slow,” Hulett said. “The energy level, I don’t know if it was because we traveled, or what, but it was very low energy. Not very good today.”
The Dust Devils chipped away with single runs in the third, fourth and fifth to tie the game at 3, including Carlos Belen’s homer to left-center to lead off the fourth.
“It doesn’t surprise me that we turned it around like that,” France said. “We have a great club and the pitching kept us in it.”
T-C’s Austin Allen added a lined two-out, two-run homer to right in the ninth.
After the blast, Indians reliever Jeffrey Springs hit Nick Vilter with a pitch and was ejected. Hulett said he had no comment.
“After what happened (with the homer), it doesn’t surprise me that (the hit by pitch) happened,” France said. “But you never know. It could have slipped. It could have been on purpose. Only (Springs) knows.”
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