Finally, the Tri-City Dust Devils have made their way to first place.
And, man, what a way to get there.
The Dust Devils rallied for five runs in the top of the ninth inning to erase a 7-6 deficit and beat the Vancouver Canadians in a Northwest League game Sunday at Nat Bailey Field.
The win, paired with Spokane’s 3-0 win at Everett, puts Tri-City (8-9 second half, 22-33 overall) in a tie with Everett (8-9, 19-36) for first place in the NWL North Division.
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Vancouver got two first-inning runs off Dust Devils starter Helmis Rodriguez, who settled down enough to shut out the Canadians for the next five innings.
Meanwhile, Tri-City’s offense caught fire, as Shane Hoelscher led off the fourth inning with his first professional home run. The Dust Devils tied the score in the fifth after Chris Rabago scored on Marcos Derkes’ sacrifice fly.
Tri-City took control in the sixth as Renaldo Jenkins hit an RBI single to give the Dust Devils a 3-2 lead. After Ryan Garvey was hit by a pitch, Jenkins then led a double-steal, but third baseman Alexis Maldonado dropped the throw from catcher Michael De La Cruz, allowing Jenkins to score.
Garvey later scored on a bases-loaded walk to put Tri-City up 5-2 in the top of the sixth.
Jenkins, who went 2-for-5 with two RBIs, hit an RBI double to make it 6-2 in the top of the seventh, but Vancouver took advantage of the absence of Rodriguez, the NWL’s ERA leader.
The Canadians scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh off reliever John Sheehan and got two more off Dylan Stamey in the bottom of the eighth to take a 7-6 lead.
But the Dust Devils finished strong. Weeks singled of Brett Barber to lead off the ninth, and Barber then walked Hoelscher and Sean Dwyer to load the bases.
Josh Fuentes drove in Weeks and Hoelscher with a single to left, and Dwyer scored on a fielding error by left fielder Chris Carlson, giving Tri-City a 9-7 lead.
Joseph Lovecchio relieved Barber but uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Fuentes to score and make it 10-7 Dust Devils.
Robbie Perkins capped the scoring with an RBI single to drive in Garvey.
Stamey picked up his first pro win despite blowing his first save opportunity. Josh Michalec pitched a perfect ninth inning to preserve the win.
Barber (0-1) took the loss, allowing four runs on two hits without retiring a single batter.