The Tri-City Dust Devils threw everything they could at the Vancouver Canadians, the two-time defending Northwest League champions, including their two best starting pitchers.
But the Canadians still clinched the final North Division playoff berth with a 2-1 victory in front of 2,635 fans Sunday at Gesa Stadium, doing it the same way they earned title rings in 2011 and 2012 — by finding a way.
Vancouver will play host to Everett in Game 1 on Tuesday at Nat Bailey Stadium. Games 2 and 3 will be played at Memorial Stadium in Everett. It’s the fourth consecutive season that the Canadians have reached the playoffs.
“It’s always impressive to see a run like that. It starts with the scouting and it’s a credit to the way (manager) Clayton (McCullough), (hitting coach) Dave (Pano) and (pitching coach) Jim (Czajkowski run the club,” Dust Devils manager Drew Saylor said
Ryan Warner and Johendi Jiminian, who combined to lead all Tri-City starters with three wins apiece, were named to the NWL All-Star team in early August. They were tasked with keeping Vancouver from celebrating a NWL playoff berth on their home field.
“That was the plan to begin with, just to get them one more opportunity to get some more work in before the season ends,” Saylor said.
Warner handled Vancouver for the first five innings, allowing no runs on just one hit before giving way to Jiminian in the sixth.
But the Canadians got to Jiminian in the eighth, getting three consecutive hits — including an RBI triple by Chaz Frank and a run-scoring double by David Harris — to take a 2-1 lead.
“You put kids in a pressure situation and you find out a lot about them,” Vancouver manager Clayton McCullough said amid a (non-alcoholic) beer-soaked clubhouse. “This is a big credit to the way we pitched today. We were able to hold them down for six innings, and we came up with some big hits in the eighth.”
Tri-City got its run after Kyle Von Tungeln led off the bottom of the third with a single to right. He was sacrificed to second by Patrick Hutcheson and then scored on a pair of wild pitches by Canadians’ starter Alonzo Gonzalez.
Drew Permison (1-0) picked up the win with 1 2/3 scoreless innings in relief of Gonzalez. Chuck Ghysels earned his 11th save of the season with a perfect ninth.
It was a big win for Permison, who was also a part of the Canadians’ last two NWL championship squads. In 2011, he led the NWL with 15 saves and threw the final inning of a 9-2 win over Tri-City that won Game 3 and the title.
“I want to win another one,” said Permison, who missed the first four months this season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. “We’ve just got a bunch of grinders on this team. Our hitters make it happen when they have to.”
Jiminian (3-5) took the loss, giving up two runs on five hits over 3 2/3 innings.
Wilfredo Rodriguez went 2-for-3, and Sean Dwyer finished 2-for-4 to provide half of Tri-City’s eight hits.
Notes: Today’s starters will be Tri-City RHP Konner Wade (2-7, 3.92 ERA) against Vancouver RHP Jeremy Gabryszwski (5-2, 2.82 ERA). ... Dust Devils OF Wilson Soriano made the defensive play of the night, sprinting to short center field to glove a sinking line drive from Vancouvers’ No. 5 hiter, Dawel Lugo. ... It was Russell Wilson Poster Giveaway night. The Seattle Seahawks quarterback played for the Dust Devils in 2010.
w Jack Millikin; 582-1406; firstname.lastname@example.org