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Branca's walk-off single spurs Volcanoes past Tri-City in thirteen-inning season finale
Salem-Keizer burned out the Dust Devils' bullpen as they persevered for the 7-6 victory in a game which featured the third-highest combined hit total in the NWL this season.
09/02/2012 4:36 AM ET
Stephen Branca delivered a walk-off single to end the season with a 7-6 victory.
Stephen Branca delivered a walk-off single to end the season with a 7-6 victory. (Josh Randolph)

KEIZER - As to make sure the season didn't end too soon, Salem-Keizer and Tri-City blessed the crowd of 2,365 fans at Volcanoes Stadium with four extra innings of baseball on Saturday night. The Dust Devils wore through seven pitchers including two positional players, as the Volcanoes - namely Stephen Branca - pulled through in the clutch to end the season on a high note, winning 7-6 in dramatic fashion.

The Dust Devils struck first in the first and second innings, where they posted two runs in each. With two runners on base in the top of the first, Francisco Sosa cleared the bases with a double. Tri-City added to their advantage in the second after a double followed by four consecutive singles resulted in an early 4-0 lead.

The Volcanoes were responsible for the next six runs that were added to the scoreboard, largely thanks to a five-run sixth inning. Four hits in the frame compounded by two walks and a sacrifice fly did enough damage to put Salem-Keizer on top, 6-4.

With two outs in the top of the ninth, the game looked to be all but over until Derek Jones tied the game with a two-RBI double. The Volcanoes left runners in scoring position in the home-half of the inning to send the game into extras.

Both teams threatened more than once in the added innings, but Salem-Keizer finally scored in the bottom of the thirteenth. Trevor Brown - who had an extremely successful game from the plate - doubled before two consecutive walks loaded the bases. Stephen Branca singled up the middle to plate the winning run, as the Volcanoes improved to 6-3 in their ninth extra-inning contest of the season.

Trevor Brown highlighted all offensive players by going 4-for-7 in the contest with two doubles. Other notable performances were turned in by Mitch Delfino (3-for-6, double) and Stephen Branca (3-for-6, winning RBI.) Salem-Keizer held the 16-15 hitting edge. There were two-hit performances strung all throughout the Dust Devils' lineup. The 31 combined hits between the two clubs came in third in the Northwest League this season, behind a 35-hit performance by Spokane and Boise, and a 32-hit performance courtesy of Eugene and Boise.

Joan Gregorio struggled in the first two innings of his start and ended the outing with four innings of eight-hit, four-run ball. Gregorio did strike out eight batters in the contest, but he did not receive a decision - just the second time in sixteen games where he has not done so. Relief innings were provided by Keith Bilodeau with three frames, Mason McVay with one perfect inning, Tyler Mizenko with three innings, and Steven Okert with two innings and the win. Anthony Aguilera - regularly a catcher for Tri-City - received the loss after going one and two-thirds innings.

Salem-Keizer took the five-game, season-ending series from the Dust Devils with the win in Saturday's rubber match. The Volcanoes ended the second half with a respectable 18-18 record while finishing 32-44 overall. Tri-City also finishes at 32-44 overall while finishing 14-24 in the second half. The Volcanoes put the finishing touches on their sixteenth year in Keizer, and will look forward to more great baseball from Volcanoes Stadium in 2013.

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