Protecting a lead isn’t just about one dominant closer coming in to shut down the opposition in the ninth inning.
It’s about several relievers working together.
That’s what the Tri-City Dust Devils did during a 6-2 win over the Vancouver Canadians on Friday night in front of 2,739 fans at Gesa Stadium.
Four Dust Devils relief pitchers came in after starter Blake Shouse left with a 3-2 lead after four innings and combined for five innings of shutout ball.
John Sheehan, Sam Moll and Huascar Brazoban each threw one shutout inning apiece to set up Josh Michalec, who escaped a bit of trouble in the eighth before tossing a scoreless ninth to secure the win.
The win brought Tri-City (7-8 second half, 20-32 overall) to within one game of first-place Everett (8-7, 19-33), which lost 10-1 in Spokane. It was the first Dust Devils home win over Vancouver in five tries this season.
Tri-City got off to a strong start in the bottom of the first, as Drew Weeks drew a one-out walk, took second on a wild pitch and advanced to third on Shane Hoelscher’s infield single. Sean Dwyer then plated them both with a line-drive double to the wall in right center field for a 2-0 Dust Devils lead.
Josh Fuentes drove in another run with an RBI grounder in the third for a 3-0 lead.
But Vancouver, the three-time defending NWL champions, wouldn’t go away.
Franklin Barreto singled to lead off the fourth, stole second and took third on a flyball to center. Chris Carlson then drove him in with a sacrifice fly to put the Canadians on the board at 3-1.
The C’s got another in the fourth, getting an RBI single from Alexis Maldonado to cut it to 3-2.
Vancouver threatened to score in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings, putting runners in scoring position. But the Dust Devils bullpen, not to mention some solid defense, came through each time.
Michalec kept his cool when Ryan McBroom reached on a single to lead off the eighth. The 21st-round draft pick out of Baylor did throw a wild pitch, but then calmly retired the next three batters in a row, with McBroom on third, to end the threat.
Michalec then collected his fifth save with a scoreless ninth.
Shouse allowed just one earned run in four innings but didn’t qualify for the win. John Sheehan (4-0) earned his fourth victory in relief of Shouse.
Chase Mallard (3-2) took the loss for Vancouver, giving up three runs on three hits in four innings.
The Dust Devils tacked on another run in the bottom of the seventh, on a bases-loaded walk to Miguel Dilone, and two more in the eighth on an RBI double by Marcos Derkes and an RBI single from Hoelscher to make it 6-2.
Derkes had two hits and scored three runs for Tri-City, while Hoelscher went 3-for-5 to extend his hitting streak to 11 games.
McBroom extended his hitting streak to nine games with an eighth-inning single.
Notes: Today’s starters will be RHP Joel Payamps (0-0, 3.72 ERA) for Tri-City vs. LHP Jairo Labourt (2-3, 2.47 ERA) for Vancouver. ... The Colorado Rockies assigned RHP Scott Firth to the Dust Devils on Friday. Firth was named to the NWL All-Star team three weeks ago, but his promotion to the Rockies’ Low-A affiliate in Asheville (N.C.) prevented him from playing in the game. Firth, a 19th-round draft pick out of Clemson last year, appeared in three games for Asheville, leaving with an 0-1 record and a 13.50 ERA in 3 1/3 innings. ... The Canadians’ Ryan McBroom (.330), Chris Carlson (.326), Tim Locastro (.323) and Franklin Barreto (.321) are ranked fifth through eighth in the NWL in hitting. The Spokane Indians have four hitters — Seth Spivey (first at .355), Eduard Pinto (second at .344), Luke Tender (fourth at .341) and Marcus Greene Jr. (ninth at .318) — in the top 10.
w Jack Millikin; 582-1406; email@example.com