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09/09/2007 3:52 AM ET
Volcanoes toss another shutout
Joaquin, 'pen put Salem-Keizer on brink of repeating
Salem-Keizer manager Steve Decker has his team one win from a second straight title. (Patrick Ostrander/


Coming off of Tommy John surgery, Salem-Keizer's Waldis Joaquin slowly worked his way back to top form. It all came together Saturday for the right-hander.

Joaquin fired six dominant innings as the Volcanoes blanked the Tri-City Dust Devils for the second straight day, 2-0, to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-5 Northwest League Championship Series.

Making his 16th appearance and sixth start of the year, Joaquin (1-0) surrendered two hits and one walk while fanning a career-high seven. The 20-year-old struck out the side in the third and faced the minimum over the first four frames as the Salem-Keizer turned two double plays.

"Not too bad, huh?" Volcanoes manager Steve Decker said. "The last two nights, we showed how great our pitching can be. Coming off of Tommy John surgery, we have a strict pitch count of 70 for Waldis, but man, he was the Waldis of old tonight. He was throwing 95 mph fastballs and a power slider. He was outstanding."

Salem-Keizer's Joseph Paterson struck out four of the five batters he faced and Daniel Turpen walked one before recording the last two outs in the eighth. Daniel Otero pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to notch his first postseason save.

The Volcanoes snapped a scoreless tie in the sixth with two runs off Dust Devils starter Bruce Billings (0-1) and reliever Craig Rodriguez in the sixth.

Shane Jordan led off the inning with a walk and moved to second one out later on Matthew Downs' single. Rodriguez came in and uncorked a wild pitch, moving Jordan to third. After Andrew D'Alessio struck out, Garrett Baker and Andrew Davis delivered consecutive RBI singles.

Salem-Keizer will try to win a second straight championship Sunday when it hosts Game 4.

"Last year's team was expected to win," Decker said. "We had a roster full of high draft picks and it showed on the field. This year's team is a high-character team and they weren't expected to perform at such a high level. One thing about this team, though, is that they never quit. It has certainly showed with the way they have played."

Billings was charged with two runs on four hits and three walks while striking out four over 5 1/3 innings.

Darin Holcomb had all three hits, including a double, for the Dust Devils, who were not shut out in consecutive games during the regular season.

Michael Avallone is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.