The Tri-City Dust Devils didn’t get to finish the 2014 in a blaze of glory.
It did, however, get to end the season with plenty of pride and dignity.
Despite missing out on their goal of reaching the Northwest League playoffs, the Dust Devils put up a strong fight Monday night against the Everett AquaSox, the same type of fight that made them second-half contenders for the North Division championship.
Pinch runner Richard Prigatano scampered home with the winning run with one out in the bottom of the ninth to give Tri-City a 5-4 win in the regular-season finale in front of 2,572 fans at Gesa Stadium. Dust Devils manager Drew Saylor ordered up a double steal after Jairo Rosario and Cesar Galvez singled to lead off the frame.
But the throw to third from catcher Adam Martin bounced off the glove of third baseman Chris Mariscal and kicked into left field, allowing Prigatano to sprint home to a throng of happy teammates and a double-dousing of Gatorade buckets.
“That’s just a testament to our team. We’ve won so many games late. We’ve kind of figured out how to celebrate and what we want to do to celebrate,” Saylor said. “We definitely have some experience with Gatorade tossing.”
After a first-half record of 14-24, the Dust Devils finished the second half 19-19.
"It was great to be able to finish the season on a winning note," Saylor said. "Just looking at the year and how close we were to getting to playoffs. These guys will carry that with them for a long time."
Tri-City went up 1-0 in the first inning, as Drew Weeks sliced a one-out triple down the right field line and scored on Shane Hoelscher’s single to left off Everett starter Luiz Gohara.
The Dust Devils made it 2-0 in the fourth, when Wilson Soriano bunted his way aboard to lead off the frame. He stole second and advanced to third on a wild throw by catcher Adam Martin. After a pitching change, Cesar Galvez singled off Leoncio Munoz to bring hom Soriano.
Everett tied the score in the top of the fifth, as Andy Peterson led off with a single, advanced to second on a wild throw to first by third baseman Renaldo Jenkins. He took third on a wild pitch by Dust Devils reliever Billy Waltrip and scored on a single by Austin Cousino, who later came around on an RBI single by Martin.
Tri-City re-took the lead in the bottom of the fifth inning after Marcos Derkes hit a leadoff single, stole second and scored on a single to right by Miguel Dilone to make it 3-2.
But the AquaSox got a two-run triple from No. 8 hitter Andy Peterson in the top of the eighth inning to take a 4-3 lead.
The Dust Devils had a bit of scrap left in them, clawing back for the tying run in the bottom of the eighth inning. Jenkins drew a leadoff walk, stole second and scored when Everett shortstop Jordan Cowan overran a slow grounder that continued out into left center field.
Shane Hoelscher got to end his season on a strong note, going 1-for-1 before being pulled for a pinch hitter. With that single hit, Hoelscher improved his batting average to .332, the fourth-best mark in Dust Devils history and third in the NWL this season.
“I really appreciate the work the coaches helped me put in. (They helped me) turn it around out of nowhere, every day being willing to work,” Hoelscher said.
Dylan Stamey (2-0) got the win for Tri-City, pitching a final scoreless inning of relief. Logan Norris started the game, allowing just one hit over three scoreless innings.
Hawtin Buchanan (4-3) took the loss for Everett, giving up two unearned runs over 1 1/3 innings.
The Dust Devils stole six bases to raise their season total to 142, second only to Vancouver but best in team history.