The Tri-City Dust Devils didn’t score a lot of runs Wednesday — or get a lot of hits, for that matter — but thanks to an outstanding pitching effort, one run was enough for a 1-0 Northwest League victory over the Vancouver Canadians at Gesa Stadium.
Five Dust Devils pitchers combined to hold the Canadians to six hits to record Tri-City’s second shutout of the season as it prepares for the NWL playoffs just five days away.
“I told the guys I like to win those games. You can pound the ball around the fence all day and win messy games like we did (Monday), but to win a game like this takes a real team effort,” Dust Devils manager Anthony Contreras said. “The hardest part of August is the middle of August, when you know the playoffs are coming up. You can see the guys who are going to take you into the playoffs. It’s kind of like an audition, but everybody’s doing it.”
Tri-City starter Brett Kennedy tossed the first three innings, allowing just one hit before giving way to Will Headean, a call-up from the Arizona League making his NWL debut.
Headean, a 13th-round draft pick by the San Diego Padres out of Illinois State, struck out five batters in 22/3 innings to get his first professional victory.
“It’s nice to be on a team that’s looking to win a championship,” Headean said. “I was just out there trying to throw strikes.
“(Catcher) Austin (Allen) and I got on the same page. What he threw down was what I was thinking, and strikeouts took care of themselves.”
The Dust Devils got just two hits all night, but they took advantage of the one opportunity that put them over the top.
Mitch Morales drove home Tri-City’s only run, a one-out grounder in the bottom of the fifth that plated Nick Vilter, who doubled to open the frame.
“The pitching staff did a great job tonight. Getting a shutout with us only scoring one run is huge this late in the season,” Morales said. “We definitely want some momentum heading into the playoffs, and these last couple series are a big deal.”
Around the league
Boise (15-19) pitchers David Hill, Drazen Johnson and Logan Cozart held visiting Hillsboro (19-15) to just four hits in a 6-0 shutout. ... Chris Shaw hit his NWL-leading 11th homer for Salem-Keizer (17-17) in a 3-2 home win over Eugene (20-14).
Streaks & stats
Two former Dust Devils pitchers are standing atop their respective leagues with some impressive numbers. Asheville Tourists closer Josh Michalec (2014) is leading the Class A South Atlantic League with 28 saves, and Modesto Nuts pitcher Antonio Senzatela (2013) leads the advanced-Class A California League with a 2.42 ERA.
Did you know?
Carlos Belen went seven at-bats without a strikeout over his last three games, his longest stretch of the year without a whiff. But he swung through a Josh DeGraaf curve in the bottom of the sixth, tying the NWL short-season record of 106 strikeouts in a season.
Playoff tickets available
NWL Divisional playoff tickets are now available at the Tri-City Dust Devils’ ticket office. The Dust Devils will host Game 2 on Tuesday, Sept. 8, and (if necessary) Game 3 on Wednesday, Sept. 9. Stop by Gesa Stadium, call 544-8789 or visit www.dustdevilsbaseball.com.
Jack Millikin: 509-582-1406