Pacchioli, Dust Devils force Game 3

Padres prospect breaks tie in seventh inning to even NWL Finals

Justin Pacchioli finished the regular season on a five-game hitting streak. (Ken Aldrich/Tri-City Dust Devils)

By Tyler Maun / MiLB.com | September 13, 2015 3:06 AM

The Tri-City Dust Devils view themselves as a family. With that mentality, they embarked on Saturday aiming to keep the lights on at their collective house for one more night before they all headed home.

Mission accomplished.

Justin Pacchioli laced an RBI single to break a seventh-inning tie as the Dust Devils evened the Northwest League Championship Series at one win apiece with a 4-2 triumph over Hillsboro on Saturday night at Gesa Stadium.

"We've had a good year all year with bouncing back after a tough loss or maybe a couple losses in a row," Pacchioli said. "After a tough one, we knew that we were going to our place, and we always play well at home in front of our fans. We knew we had to play our game and when the time comes to make an execution or get a runner over or make a play or make a pitch or whatever it may be. We knew what we had to do to get to the next day."

Coming off a series-opening loss in Hillsboro, the Dust Devils returned to the ballpark where they went 25-13 during the regular season and did so with confidence.

"We knew we wanted to leave it on the line," Pacchioli said. "We're not going to have regrets after the season that we had. We knew coming in to today it was either win or go home; we don't want to go home. We want to keep playing as long as we can and continue this great season that we've had so far."

After spotting the Hops two runs in the top of the first, the Dust Devils began to chip away. Pacchioli drew a leadoff walk in the bottom half and scored on Henry Charles' double to center. Infielder Nick Vilter, with just one professional homer to his name in 299 regular-season at-bats, blasted a solo shot to left to tie the game leading off the fifth.

"Nick Vilter, he had a great game today," Pacchioli said. "He doesn't get to play much. We had guys step up in big situations when their number was called. That's all you can ask for out of guys on your team."

Then it was Pacchioli's turn. With two outs and Vilter at second in the seventh, the 22-year-old right fielder bounced a single to center to put the Dust Devils ahead for good.

"I was just sitting fastball that pitch and got what I was looking for and was fortunate enough to put a good swing on it," the 10th-round pick in this year's Draft said. "[Hillsboro shortstop and top D-backs prospect] Dansby Swanson at short, he almost made a great play up the middle to maybe knock it down and keep it in the infield, but I was fortunate enough to have it sneak through the infield and score a run."

Vilter tacked on an insurance run in the eighth when he hit an RBI single to center.

Reliever Phil Maton yielded a leadoff double to Hillsboro's Stephen Dezzi in the ninth but retired the next three batters to earn his first postseason save.

"We've been a very close-knit family as a team, and you don't always get that in Short Season or in the Minor Leagues," Pacchioli said. "We weren't surprised [to win], and we're in the situation we're in. Tomorrow is winner-take-all, and we're going to be ready."

Game 3 is Sunday at Geza Stadium.

Tyler Maun is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @TylerMaun. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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