Tri-City Dust Devils

Casteel produces walk-off for Dust Devils

PASCO -- Ryan Casteel got a well-deserved shaving cream pie to the face Tuesday night.

The Tri-City catcher grounded a base hit through the right side of the infield, driving in Jaron Shepherd in the bottom of the ninth to lead the Dust Devils past the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes 2-1 at Gesa Stadium.

"I was looking opposite field," said Casteel, who earned the traditional celebratory pie to the face for delivering the walk-off victory. "I went up with a plan and stuck to it and wasn't going to get beat in."

Casteel was facing submarine pitcher Phil McCormick, who had come on two batters before and had been effectively wild.

McCormick gave up an infield single to Jordan Ribera, on a ball that bounced off the plate and soared into the air. Pinch runner Shepherd then moved up to second when Leo Reyes struck out, but the ball was in the dirt and got away from the catcher.

"I knew (McCormick) was going to come with a fastball," Casteel said. "He has a lot of movement, and I knew I couldn't turn on it. A lot of credit goes to Ribera for busting his butt down the line."

The victory keeps Tri-City in first place in the Northwest League East Division and marks the Dust Devils' second consecutive win.

"That's a tough pitcher, throwing at a tough angle," Tri-City manager Fred Ocasio said. "It wasn't lucky. It was just good hitting by Casteel."

While Ribera helped set the table for Casteel, Tri-City relief pitcher Rafael Suarez also deserves a lion's share of the credit for escaping a big jam in the top of the ninth inning to keep the score tied.

With one out in the ninth, Suarez walked Jesus Galindo, gave up a bunt single to Kaohi Downing and then walked league MVP Joe Panik to load the bases.

But Suarez bounced back and struck out Mike Murray and induced an inning-ending groundout from Brett Krill to escape the jam.

"He did a great job of battling," Casteel said of his pitcher. "He could've folded, and he didn't."

Suarez (1-0) pitched two innings, allowing two hits with two walks and striking out the one batter in relief of Christian Bergman. Bergman finished one win short of the franchise record in victories this season, ending with seven.

"Bergman pitched well," Ocasio said. "He is having a hell of a year this year. He just goes after hitters and keeps them off balance."

Bergman went seven innings, allowing one run on two hits and striking out six. He was perfect through three innings, but gave up a double and a single leading off the fourth.

Despite falling short of the wins record, Bergman was named to the Northwest League's postseason all-star team as a starting pitcher. Teammate Ken Roberts joined Bergman on the team as a reliever.

"That's well deserved," Casteel said of Bergman being named to the team. "He's one of the best pitchers I've ever seen. He's been one of the best in the league this year."

Ocasio also earned manager of the year honors for the second time.

"It's a good award for me to win, but it's because of the players," Ocasio said. "Obviously we've had a great year."

NOTES: Today's starters: For Tri-City, Ricardo Ferrer (2-5, 4.45 ERA) and for Salem-Keizer, Cameron Lamb (3-6, 5.53). ... Tyler Massey extended his hit streak to a Northwest League-best 18 games in the bottom of the fourth, reaching on a bloop to the second baseman -- who dropped it. The scorekeeper called it a hit, as the second baseman did have to reach for it. Massey later had another infield hit. ... Salem-Keizer starter Leonardo Mendoza struck out seven batters in six innings, including six looking -- many on fastballs on the outside corner. ... Announced attendance was 1,390.