GREAT FALLS – Emotions came flying out when the Great Falls Voyagers topped Grand Junction 6-4 on Thursday night for their first Pioneer League championship since 2011 and third since becoming an affiliate of the Chicago White Sox in 2003.
And what a turnaround it was for Great Falls. After winning the first-half title, the team faltered in the second half and finished dead last. But in the postseason, the Voyagers recaptured their first-half form, taking out Billings in two games for the North crown and finishing off Grand Junction in two games, as well.
A lot of the credit for Thursday’s thrilling win fell on the arm of Voyagers closer Devon Perez, who struck out seven batters in the final three innings to earn the save for Great Falls, retiring the side in the ninth inning.
For Perez, the win had a little extra meaning.
“This means the world to me,” Perez said. “I haven’t won a big championship like this before. I’m doing it for my grandfather who passed away last September, so it’s definitely a good present for him, for sure.”
Perez’s grandfather passed away in Virginia last fall, but there was no doubt he was watching over Centene Stadium on this night.
“Every inning I go out there, and I tell him, ‘Just get my back,’” Perez said after Thursday’s win. “And he had it tonight”