There were several standouts Saturday night at Gesa Stadium, where the Tri-City Dust Devils and Eugene Emeralds battled deep into the night.
But there was one hero, and it was Michael Benjamin, who bounced an RBI single up the middle to score Patrick Valaika with two outs in the bottom of the 12th inning to give Tri-City a 6-5 Northwest League win.
The victory allowed the Dust Devils (6-6 second half, 25-25 overall) to climb to within two games of North Division leader Everett (8-4, 31-19), which split a doubleheader with Boise.
The Dust Devils let a 4-1 lead slip away in the ninth inning, as Malquiel Brito blasted a game-tying, three-run home run off reliever Jerad McCrummen to send the game into extra innings.
The Emeralds took their first lead of the night in the top of the 10th after Tri-City reliever Jason Vargas allowed a bunt single to Wynton Bernard, walked Michael Bass and then uncorked a wild pitch to put them both in scoring position. Bernard scored on a sacrifice fly by Hunter Renfroe to give Eugene a 5-4 lead.
The Dust Devils evened things up in the bottom half, however, after Patrick Valaika hit a one-out single. Mike Tauchman followed with a double to left center to send Valaika to third.
Benjamin then drove in Valaika with a sacrifice fly to right, tying it up at 5.It was Benjamin’s third RBI of the night. The 13th-round draft pick out of Arizona State has 11 RBIs in his last five games.
The Dust Devils made quick work of Emeralds starter Bryan Verbitsky, who allowed a one-out double to Valaika and a walk to Tauchman in the first inning. Benjamin then lifted a flyball to right that fell in front of outfielder Hunter Renfroe, who then overthrew second with the relay, allowing Valaika to score for a 1-0 lead.
Ashley Graeter grounded out to second to bring home Tauchman and send Benjamin to third. Sean Dwyer completed the scoring with an RBI single to right to make it 3-0.
Tauchman hit a two-out single in the bottom of the third, and Benjamin drove him in with a bloop double to right to push Tri-City’s lead to 4-0.
Warner cruised through six inings, before getting into some trouble in the seventh. He allowed a two-out single to Brito and a double down the left field line to Felipe Blanco to score Brito, cutting the lead to 4-1.
Warner allowed just one run on five hits while lowering his ERA to 3.08. It was Warner’s sixth consecutive quality start — defined by allowing three or fewer runs in at least six innings.
Wilson Soriano also had a big night for the Dust Devils, going 4-for-4 with an outstanding defensive play in center field to boot. The 5-foot-9 Dominican native sprinted toward the wall in left center, gloving Bernard’s liner to the fence before crashing hard into the Kadlec sign for the first out in the sixth.