Dust Devils Clinch First Half Crown
The Tri-City Dust Devils are the Northwest League East Division first-half champions and have secured a playoff spot in the 2011 NWL playoffs. The Dust Devils have gone on a tear to end the second half, winning 10 of their last 13 and three consecutive series. Tri-City looked to be fading out of the first-half division title picture after losing four of five on the road to the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, but turned their fortunes around quickly and will be in the playoffs for the third time in the last five seasons.
The Dust Devils needed to take advantage of their longest home stand of the season, following the series lost to Salem-Keizer, to get back on the winning track and that is exactly what they did. Tri-City defeated the Eugene Emeralds, who at the time were 21-4 and running away with the NWL West Division title, four of five games then took two of three games against the Yakima Bears at Gesa Stadium. The 6-2 stretch put the Dust Devils into a tie atop the East Division with the Spokane Indians as Tri-City headed to Spokane for a crucial three game series. In that series the Dust Devils won two of three, including an immensely important rubber match 3-1 on Saturday evening at Avista Stadium to give Tri-City the upper hand with two games remaining.
In order to clinch the division in those final two games the Dust Devils had to win just one of the two on the road against the Yakima Bears, which they did in comfortable fashion Sunday night, 10-4. Tri-City now has seven days, until Monday August 1, to decide whether they would like to host game one, or games two and three in the first round of the Northwest League Playoffs, which take place September 5-7. The Dust Devils will face the winner of the NWL East Division second half in the first round of the playoffs, unless they win it, in which case the team with the next best winning percentage over the entirety of the season in the division will face Tri-City.
After closing out the first half of the season Tri-City will start the second half with a road game against the Yakima Bears followed by a five-game home stand versus the Vancouver Canadians which starts on Wednesday, July 27.