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The San Rafael Pacifics defeated the Tucson Saguaros 5-3 behind Valasek

8/10/2023-San Rafael Pacifics 5 Tucson Saguaros 3

This game was played on 8/10/2023 at Albert Park


SAN RAFAEL 5-6-1, Tucson 3-6-1 (San Rafael leads series, 1 game to 0)

Kevin Johnson drove in two runs on a double and homer while Alex Valasek pitched 8.1 strong innings to lead San Rafael to a 5-3 win over visiting Tucson Thursday night at Albert Park in Game One of the Pecos League Championship Series. The Pacifics have a chance to complete a two-game sweep of the best-of-3 set Friday night for their first Pecos pennant while the Saguaros need a win to force a deciding Game Three on Saturday. The entire series is being played in Marin County.

San Rafael opened the scoring with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth when Johnson belted a two-run roundtripper off Tucson starter Isaac Keehn, whod plunked Kyle Guerra with the first pitch of the inning. Johnson then sent Keehns second offering over the fence to break a scoreless tie.

The Cacti evened the score in the top of the sixth when Steve Joyner came in from third on a Madison Santos groundout to second with B.J. Minarcin advancing to third on the play. Minarcin made it a 2-2 tilt four pitches later when Brock Ephan grounded out toTucson shortstop Gavy Perez-Torres.

The Pacifics regained the lead for good in the bottom of the seventh on a two-run single by Mike Thiesen off Tucson reliever Jackson Smith, whod replaced Keehn on the mound two batters earlier after Keehn walked Grant Victor on a full count pitch. San Rafael stretched their advantage to 5-2 in the eighth when Nick Smith singled home Johnson, whod doubled off Smith earlier in the frame.

Tucson scored a final run in the top of the ninth when Kirkland Trahans ground-rule double off incoming reliever Chris Johnson (whod come in after Valaseks 133rd pitch) scored Ephan from second. Johnson retired the final two batters as Zach Campbells swinging strikeout ended the game.

Valasek, the Pacific Division Pitcher of the Year, got the win after giving up three runs (two earned) on five hits while striking out 10 Tucson batsmen in 8.1 innings while Johnson got the save. Keehn took the loss despite a good outing of 6.1 innings in which he allowed four runs (two earned) on four hits with nine whiffs. Joyner had two hits for the Saguaros while Ephan and Trahan each sliced two-baggers. Johnson and Nick Smith had two hits each for the Pacifics.
 R   H   E 
TUC    3   6   1 
SRF    5   6   1