By the time the players started filtering into Gesa Stadium on Saturday afternoon, their playoff fate had already been decided.
The Tri-City Dust Devils’ strong second half will not be rewarded with a playoff berth, as Vancouver beat Spokane 5-3 earlier in the afternoon, clinching the second-half North Division title.
After learning the news, Tri-City tried to push forward but could not rally late, falling 3-1 to the Everett AquaSox at Gesa Stadium in front of a crowd of 2,489.
“A couple of the guys had the ‘uhh’ type of feeling (after learning of Vancouver's win),” said Dust Devils manager Drew Saylor.
But just to be in a position to be in the playoff with two games remaining in the second-half after a dismal first-half says something in the mind of Saylor.
“We still have a lot to play for,” Saylor said. “We just have to keep pushing to the end.
“We have played well the past month, now it’s just a sprint to the finish.”
Tri-City wraps up its 76-game season today against Everett. With a win, the Dust Devils (32-43 overall, 18-19) can finish the second half of the season with .500 record.
The three-time defending Northwest League champion Canadians open the playoffs Tuesday against Spokane, which won the first-half division championship.
Tri-City jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a ringing double down the left-field line by Shane Hoelscher to score Drew Weeks from first base. That would be the lone Dust Devils run of the game.
Everett came back to tie the game in the fourth inning on an RBI double by Phillips Castillo. Everett threatened to take the lead in the fifth, but Chris Rabago gunned down Andy Peterson at home plate on a ground ball by Chris Mariscal to keep the score tied.
The game stayed that way until the seventh inning when Adam Martin unleashed a two-run double to the center-field wall just out of the reach of Wilson Soriano to give the AquaSox a 3-1 lead.
Tri-City had its chances late getting the lead off batter on base in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings. The best scoring chance came in the seventh, but they could not score, leaving a runner at third with less than two outs.
“We just didn't have enough quality at-bats,” Saylor said.
Dylan Thompson took the loss, allowing two runs on two hits in the seventh inning, his only inning of work.
Brett Ash got the win for Everett, allowing just two hits in 31⁄3 innings.