Dust Devils just miss out on Northwest League title in close series against Hillsboro

What a great season for the Tri-City Dust Devils, who fell just short of winning the Northwest League championship series on Wednesday night.

Tri-City lost 3-1 to the Hillsboro Hops in the deciding, winner-take-all Game 5 at Gesa Stadium.

Considering the Dust Devils never won the first- or second-half North Division titles – only qualifying as the second-best overall record after the Spokane Indians – the team got hot at the right time.

Tri-City beat Spokane 2 games to 1 to win the North title, then stayed with Hillsboro in the title series.

The Hops won the opener last Saturday on a walkoff homer, but the Dust Devils bounced back the next night, winning 9-1 to even the series.

On Monday, in what is one of the best minor-league games I’ve ever witnessed, the Hops won a pitchers’ duel 2-1.

But on Tuesday, Tri-City evened it again with a 6-0 win, setting up Wednesday’s finale.

What was great to see was the intensity of the games, not just from the players but all of the fans.

The players have already dispersed, jumping on flights home Thursday. But it was still a fun season for everyone.

Let’s do it again, starting in June.


• The WIAA announced its state high school athletes of the week for Week 1, and the Mid-Columbia had a lot of representation. Tri-Cities Prep football player Landon Amato, Walla Walla Valley Academy volleyball player Sahara Browning, Pasco football player Des Licon, River View football player Robert Nunez, and Kamiakin girls soccer player Paige Savage were all named athletes of the week.

• Amid all of the high school football going on, I forgot to check if Richland High grad Eric Yardley got called back up to the San Diego Padres after the Pacific Coast League season ended over Labor Day weekend. Well, he did. Yardley — who got his first call-up on Aug. 21, pitched in a couple games and then was sent back down to Triple-A El Paso on Aug. 24 – was called back up to the big club on Sept. 3. He should finish the season with San Diego. Yardley made his next appearance for the Padres against the Chicago Cubs on Sept. 9, when he pitched two-thirds of an inning, surrendering one hit and no runs.

• The final H1 Unlimited race of the 2019 season takes place this weekend in San Diego at Bayfair. It should all be a formality, as Jimmy Shane in the U-6 Miss HomeStreet Bank should clinch the national high points championship. Shane has 7,377 points coming in, while second-place driver J. Michael Kelly in the U-12 Graham Trucking sits at 5,934. Just six boats will be competing in the event, which includes testing on Friday. On Saturday, there will be qualifying and two heat races. Sunday concludes with two more heat races, and the Bayfair final at 4:10 p.m.

• Former Hanford High standout Aaron Neary was released by the Los Angeles Rams on Tuesday. Neary, an offensive lineman, has a serious ankle injury that requires surgery.

• Columbia Basin College’s Danielle Chang was named the NWAC women’s soccer athlete of the week on Sept. 5. The Hawaii product scored three goals and three assists in three wins for the Hawks that week.

Tri-City’s Kyle Olson, right, and Seattle’s Donovan Neuls vie for the puck during a playoff game in Kent. Brian Liesse Seattle Thunderbirds

• Tri-City Americans forward Kyle Olson has impressed the Buffalo Sabres so much that the NHL team invited him to main camp.

• Pasco High grad Marissa Howard finished sixth out of eight runners in the women’s 3,000 steeplechase in Tuesday’s The Match USA vs. Europe track meet in Minsk, Belarus. Howard, who lives in Boise and competed in the Pan American Games last month in Peru, was invited to compete for the United States in this two-day event that ran Monday and Tuesday. The USA’s Mel Lawrence won the event with a time of 9 minutes, 33.24 seconds. After Lawrence came the four Europeans, followed by Howard, and then her other two USA teammates. Howard clocked in at 9:47.67. Europe ended up winning the dual-meet event by a score of 724.5-601.5.

• When the New York Jets start Trevor Siemian at quarterback on Monday night, former WSU QB Luke Falk will be his backup. The move was necessitated when starter San Darnold came down with mononucleosis. Last year’s starting WSU QB, Gardner Minshew, was elevated this week to the starting quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars after Nick Foles injured his clavicle.

• Kamiakin grad Gavin Crow looks like he’s out for the season at the University of Montana. The safety broke his leg on a kickoff during Montana’s 61-17 win over North Alabama last Saturday.

• Chiawana graduate McKenna Kaelber seems to have made the transition from high school volleyball to college volleyball a smooth one. For the second time in this early season, Kaelber was named the Frontier Conference volleyball setter of the week on Monday. Kaelber averaged 9.14 assists per set to lead Montana Tech to victories over Medicine Hate College and Benedictine-Mesa of Arizona.

• The CBC volleyball team opened its NWAC East portion of its schedule Wednesday night by taking a 3-2 marathon win over visiting Walla Walla Community College. The Hawks won the first two sets to take a 2-0 lead. But the Warriors bounced back with the next two sets to knot things at 2-2. CBC then won Game 5 by a score of 15-9. The Hawks (1-0 NWAC East, 8-8 overall) were led by Bella Albert (Banks, Ore.), who had 12 kills, 36 assists and 7 digs; and Jordan O’Connor (Columbia-Burbank), who added 11 kills, 32 assists and 5 digs. WWCC (0-1, 7-9) was led by Mollie Doyle (Mountain View, Vancouver), who had 13 kills, 29 assists and 8 digs.

Jeff Morrow is the former sports editor for the Herald.

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