Final game of the regular seaso, and it's one beautiful night here at Gesa Stadium. Healthy breeze blowing out to left center field, so don't be surprised if we see a home run or two
Sounds like I missed quite a show last night in Tri-City's 3-1 win over Salem-Keizer. The Dust Devils were fighting for their 11th shutout of the season, which would have been an outright Northwest League record. They're currently tied with two other teams with 10 shutouts.
But in the seventh, John Eshelman and Shawn Payne singled with two outs for the Volcanoes. Tri-City pitcher Ben Alsup turned to first and appeared to pick Payne of first with a good throw to Tyler Massey at first. The move was so good, it caught everybody off guard, including the base umpire Travis Eggerts, who called Payne safe.
Most of the Dust Devils infield were headed off the field, thinking that was the third out of the inning. Meanwhile, Eshelman — still standing on second — sneaked his way over to third. The Dust Devils then began arguing with Eggerts that they had called time out during the play, which would have kept Eshelman on second. Eggerts didn't agree.
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Eshelman, doing a good job taking advantage of the confusion, then headed home after he saw Ryan Casteel head up the third base line to cover third. He got there in time and was credited with a steal of home.
So the Dust Devils have one more shot at it tonight and one of their better pitchers on the mound in Chris Jensen. Let's see if they can get it done.
Jensen looking good through four innings. He's thrown 56 pitches through four scoreless innings, scattering three hits. Seems to be mixing his pitches pretty well, and he hasn't fallen behind anybody yet. That's a key factor against S-K, which can nickle and dime you to death on the basepaths.
Also, the Dust Devils picked up a run in the second inning. Leonardo Reyes was hit by a Kendry Flores pitch with one out. Then Juan Crousset drove a single to center, but Reyes did a great job hustling around second as Volcanoes center fielder Jesus Galindo had to drift a bit to his left to get in front of it. Reyes made it to third and then scored on a groundout to shortstop by Taylor Featherston.
1-0 Dust Devils heading to the bottom of four.
Tri-City puts two more on the board in the fourth inning, as Jared Simon hit a one-out single to left, went to second on a sac bunt by Reyes and scored on Crousset's single to center.
Featherston then tripled to the wall in left to make it 3-0. He got it up in the air, and I thought it might have enough to get out, but it hit off the wall.
Anyway, Dust Devils lead 3-0.
Word is that with anything close to a sellout crowd, Tri-City will once again set the team attendance record for the fifth consecutive season. The Dust Devils need a crowd of 2,779 fans to break last year's record of 84,921, and I can tell you there are well over 3,000 people in the stands for tonight's game.
We may even have a shot at breaking the single game mark of 3,792.
So here's an early congrats to GMs Derrel Ebert and Tim Gittel on another terrific season.
Featherston just turned what might have been the NWL defensive play of the year on a hard ground ball from Danny Brock up the middle. Featherston looked out of range, but he dived to his left — fully extended — and gloved it behind second base. He then flipped the ball over his shoulder and straight out of the glove to second baseman Sam Mende, who turned and made a strong throw to first to complete the double play.
If any of the local news crews were here, they could have maybe sent that in to ESPN as a possible Top-10 Play of the Day.
Dust Devils radio man Jason Schwartz just came over and told me it was the best defensive play he's ever called. It's certainly one of the best I've ever seen here at Gesa Stadium.
It's confirmed!! Tri-City GM and VP Derrel Ebert just sat down and told me that the Dust Devils will break two attendance records tonight — the season and the single-game mark. The attendance was announced at 3,811, which eclipses the previous single-game record of 3,796. The crowd also pushed the season total to 85,953, which breaks last year's mark by over 1,000 fans.
Pretty darn impressive. Now lets see if Tri-City can make the NWL shutout mark all its own.
Not going to happen. Jensen left after seven scoreless innings, and his replacement — Rafael Suarez — allowed four straight one-out singles in the eighth to bring in a run. To his credit, he did get out of it without any further damage, but it's too bad the Dust Devils won't get the record.
They can still get a nice win, however. That would provide some great momentum heading into the NWL division series beginning Monday in Boise.
There it is. 3-1 Dust Devils is the final. Nelson Gonzalez comes in to nail down his third save, and Tri-City is playoff bound.
Tune in Monday at 5:45 (PDT) for Game 1 of the NWL divisional series in Boise. Games 2 and 3 at Gesa Stadium at 7:15 on Tuesday and Wednesday.