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VanElderen slams Dust Devils
09/08/2007 4:35 AM ET
It took one inning for Salem-Keizer to send Tri-City a not-so-subtle reminder about which team set the Northwest League record for wins in a season.

Sean VanElderen hit a grand slam to highlight an eight-run fifth and Jared Cranston pitched seven scoreless innings as the Volcanoes defeated the Dust Devils, 10-0, to even the best-of-5 Northwest League Championship Series at 1-1.

The series continues on Saturday at Volcanoes Stadium.

"This lets them know that 'You may have gotten us the first night, but we got you tonight and we're going back to our place,'" Cranston said. "Even after we clinched, we were going after the record. Now that we have that, we want to get a ring."

Salem-Keizer, the reigning Northwest League champions, sent 11 batters to the plate in the fifth. Seven consecutive Volcanoes reached base with one out and Matthew Downs doubled with the bases loaded to bring in three runs and boost the Salem-Keizer lead to 4-0. Downs scored on a single by Andrew Davis.

VanElderen quickly got into a 0-2 hole against Tri-City reliever David Arnold, but the right fielder deposited the next pitch over the center-field wall for a 9-0 lead.

"Downs cleared the bases and we were up 4-0. That takes a big weight off," VanElderen said. "You have a big lead and you know the pitcher is going to have to come after you. When I hit it, I didn't think it was going to get out. I was thinking I was going to get a fly ball to the outfield and get an RBI."

Cranston had his best start of the season, even better than the 5 2/3 perfect innings he tossed against Everett on Aug. 14. He struck out 10 and walked one. It was the third time he has reached double-digits in strikeouts for the Volcanoes this season.

Tri-City got a leadoff double in the second from Darin Holcomb, who took third on a groundout. But Cranston (1-0) struck out the next two batters to begin a run of eight consecutive Dust Devils retired.

"We were down 1-0 in the series. To come out and get the win is the biggest thing," Cranston said. "My fastball, in the early innings, was down in the zone. They were calling the low strike, so that made it easy. Just get the ball down."

Reliever Timothy Egart gave up one hit, a triple by Brian Rike in the ninth, over the final two frames to complete the four-hit shutout. He struck out two and did not walk a batter.

Tri-City starter Connor Graham (0-1) gave up two runs on two hits, striking out four and walking four over 4 1/3 innings. The Dust Devils bullpen was torched for eight runs.

VanElderen, Davis and Andrew D'Alessio each had two hits for Salem-Keizer, which finished with nine hits and eight walks.

"It definitely makes it a lot easier going home even rather than behind," VanElderen said. "We expect to win every game. We don't like it when we felt like we gave a game away. We wanted to show them we were here to compete."

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.