The Tri-City Dust Devils couldn’t give the fans a win in their final home game of 2012, losing 4-2 to the Eugene Emeralds on Sunday, but the fans were able to give a little something back to the Dust Devils.
For the sixth consecutive year, Tri-City broke the Gesa Stadium attendance record, and they did it in style. Needing a near-sellout crowd to get the job done, the Dust Devils snapped their single-game attendance mark of 3,826 — set on July 3 of this seaon — with a crowd of 3,871.
That number allowed the team to break its single-season mark of 85,953, set last season. Even though Tri-City wasn’t able to extend its season with a playoff berth, the new attendance mark of 86,095 was an indication that minor league baseball is alive and well in the Mid-Columbia.
“People ask me all the time what the effect of a winning team has on attendance. It’s more fun to have a winning team, but people come out here to be entertained. That’s our job,” said Derrel Ebert, the Dust Devils’ Vice President and General Manager. “Anything short of breaking the record we would have seen as a failure. It’s just something we feel we have to do.”
The franchise got some more good news Sunday when the Colorado Rockies extended its’ player development contract with Tri-City for two more years, ensuring that the Dust Devils will be at Gesa Stadium through 2014.
“Today we were able to bring everything together all the success we’ve had. It’s a perfect fit,” Ebert said.
Tri-City (30-41 overall, 12-21 second half) fell behind in the first ining after Stephen Carmon hit a leadoff triple off Roberto Padilla and scored on an infield grounder in the first inning.
The Dust Devils tied it up in the bottom of the second after Francisco Sosa reached on a two-base throwing error by third baseman Gabriel Quintana and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Derek Jones.
Tri-City took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fourth after Sosa doubled and scored on a sacrifice fly by Matt Argyropoulos.
Padilla pitched six strong innings, allowing just one run on three hits and looked like he might be in line for his first win since July 31.
But Eugene (44-27, 20-14), which is still locked in a tight battle for the second-half West Division crown, got the final word against reliever Ryan Arrowood (3-3) in the top of the eighth. Alberth Martinez and Carmon started the inning with back-to-back singles, and both scored on a two-run double by Jeremy Baltz, who drove in three of Eugene’s four runs.
Maxx Tissenbaum then knocked in Baltz with a bloop single to short right field, making it 4-2.
Juan Marcano (4-4) got the win for the Emeralds with 52⁄3 scoreless innings in relief of starter Will Scott.
Notes: Tri-City will begin a season-ending five-game series today at Salem-Keizer. RHP Ben Hughes will make his final start for the Dust Devils in Game 1 at 6:30 p.m. today. ... When public address announcer Patrick Harvey announced that Russell Wilson, a Dust Devils second baseman in 2010, had earned the starting quarterback job with the Seattle Seahawks, the crowd erupted in cheers. ... The Tri-City Americans hockey club, which just began fall camp, was in attendance.