The Tri-City Dust Devils may be out of the Northwest League playoff picture, but there was still a chance to do some good Saturday night at Gesa Stadium.
Facing the Vancouver Canadians in their final series of the year, the Dust Devils had a chance to make life a little more difficult on the two-time defending NWL champions.
Instead, it was Vancouver that made life a little tougher on Tri-City, sending the Dust Devils to their sixth loss in the last eight games with a 4-2 victory in front of 3,173 fans. Tri-City players filed silently into the Dave Lemak Clubhouse following the game, lamenting another close loss.
“It’s all about setting goals, and our goal now is to make it tough on Vancouver,” said Dust Devils manager Drew Saylor. “(My players are) trying their absolute best. That says a lot about their character and who they’re going to be.”
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Vancouver (16-20 second half, 38-36 overall) can’t win the second half title, but if Spokane (18-18, 38-36) doesn’t overtake Everett (19-17, 42-32) for the second half crown, the C’s are in the best position to grab the other North Division berth. Should Everett win the second-half title, Vancouver holds the tiebreaker against Spokane should the teams end up in an overall tie.
“Now we just need a little help from Everett,” said Canadians manager Clayton McCullough. “This win was huge. Tri-City has been tough for us all season.”
L.B. Dantzler came into the game in a 1-for-16 slump, but the Toronto Blue Jays’ 14th round draft pick came through in a big way against Tri-City, going 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs.
Tri-City picked up its first run in the bottom half of the first when Patrick Hutcheson drew a leadoff walk and stole second. Alec Mehrten then brought him home with a single up the middle to tie the score at 1.
Dantzler drove in his second run of the game on an RBI single to right center field in Vancouver’s two-run third inning that pushed the C’s lead to 3-1. They made it 4-1 in the top of the fourth when Brenden Kalfus hit a run-scoring double — Vancouver’s third of the day — to left center.
The Dust Devils scored another run in the bottom of the fourth on Julian Yan’s RBI single — cutting the lead to 4-2 — but stranded runners on second and third. They stranded another on third in the bottom of the eighth.
“We want to finish the season off right,” said Kennewick native Tony Bryant, who tossed two scoreless innings of relief for Tri-City.
Notes: Dust Devils C Alex San Juan collected his first professional hit, a bouncer between shortstop and third to lead off the fifth. ... Today’s starters will be Tri-City RHP Johendi Jiminian (3-4, 3.34 ERA) against Vancouver LHP Antonio Gonzalez (0-2, 2.84 ERA). Jiminian ranks 10th in the NWL with 55 strikeouts. ... Tauchman pulled up limping after running out an infield hit with one out in the bottom of the fourth. The Colorado Rockies’ 10th-round draft pick out of Bradley University left the game and was replaced by Michael Benjamin. ... The news of the night came from Hillsboro pitcher Kyle Schepel, who tossed his second no-hitter of the season in the Hops’ 5-0 road win over Boise at Memorial Stadium. Schepel, an undrafted free agent out of Grand Valley State, signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks in September of 2012. The 6-foot-1 lefty tossed a seven-inning no-no for Class A South Bend on April 14.