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Tri-City's all-star nods well-deserved

The Northwest League All-Star team was announced today, and two Tri-City Dust Devils were named to the team.

Now All-Star snubs are a part of baseball, but pardon me for saying: It’s about time.

Maybe it’s payback for leaving Darin Holcomb off the team last season.

This season, however, there was no denying at least one Dust Devils’ all-star.

Centerfielder Charie Blackmon and left-handed starter Kenneth Durst were named to the 13-player team in a vote by Northwest League coaches. It was the first time Tri-City has had multiple players named since 2004, when closer Jim Miller, second-baseman Erik Dean and third baseman Matt Macri were chosen.

Blackmon was a no-brainer. A second-round draft pick out of Georgia Tech, he sits among the NWL top five in batting average (.331), hits (86), doubles (17), triples (5) and total bases (121). Blackmon has already snapped the Dust Devils record for hits in a single season and is approaching the Rockies short-season record of 93 held by Juan Pierre.

Durst, however, was a pleasant surprise, but a well-earned one.

Durst, named to the team as top left-handed starter, has quietly churned out one of the most consistent efforts by a Tri-City player this season. A 15th-round pick out of West Virginia in 2007, Durst is sixth in the league in ERA (3.34) and seventh in strikeouts (60) in 14 appearances — including 11 starts.

Since the franchise began in Tri-Cities in 2001, the NWL left Dust Devils players off the All-Star squad three times — in 2001, 2003 and 2007.

In 2002, two players were named: shortstop Oscar Materano and reliever Isaac Pavlik.

Tri-City put one player on the team in 2005 (outfielder Travis Becktel) and 2006 (second baseman Daniel Mayora).

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