The Salem-Keizer Volcanoes proved they are still a formidable offensive unit despite the promotion of two of their biggest boppers.
After three early home runs and an eight-run third inning gave the Volcanoes (9-7 second half, 35-19 overall) an 11-2 lead, Hillsboro responded with seven unanswered runs to make the game interesting before falling 12-9 Saturday night at Volcanoes Stadium in Keizer.
The game was halted by nearly 90 minutes in the first inning by rain and was completed in front of only one hundred or so patrons well past 11 p.m. The Volcanoes swept the three-game series against the Hops (10-6, 34-20), which came after Hillsboro handed Salem-Keizer its only sweep of the season at Ron Tonkin Field just before the All-Star break.
Salem-Keizer hit three home runs for the second straight game in the series and all came with runners on base. The biggest blow was a Brandon Martorano grand slam off Hillsboro reliever Mailon Arroyo in the third inning. Two batters later, Arroyo gave up a two-run shot to Carter Aldrete to cap an eight-run third inning that gave the Volcanoes a seemingly insurmountable lead.
But the Hops steadily chipped away against the Salem-Keizer bullpen, putting runs on the board in their next four turns at bat against three differrent relievers. Meanwhile, NWL All-Star pitcher Marcos Tineo silenced the Salem-Keizer bats, retiring ten in a row at one point, while recording six strikeouts over four innings. After recent additions Liover Peguero and Corbin Carroll scored on wild pitches in the seventh inning, Hillsboro actually brought the tying run to the plate. But Eddie Hernandez hit a sinking liner to short for the final out.
Hillsboro, trailing 11-9, got a leadoff single in the top of the eightth from Ricky Martinez, but Salem-Keizer reliever Jordan Scott (2-0) retired the next three batters. After the Volcanoes plated an insurance run in the bottom of the inning, the Hops once again would get the tying run into the box after a Peguero leadoff double and a walk to Carroll. But Salem-Keizer's sixth pitcher of the night, Clay Helvey, got a key double-play off the bat of Andy Yerzy before fanning Daniel Wasinger to end a long, damp night with his fourth save of the season.
Four additions to Hillsboro's roster all made considerable contributions Saturday night and three of them had hits in all three games of the series. Carroll, the Diamondbacks' top pick in the 2019 draft (19th overall) out of Seattle's Lakeside School, tripled in a run in the second inning and scored when the relay throw got past third. He would be all over the bases, going 2-for-3 with two walks and three runs scored, giving him five runs in his first NWL series. Peguero continues to swing a hot bat after leading advanced-rookie level Missoula in batting, homers and RBI. The 6-1, 18-year-old shortstop went 3-for-4 with a double, RBI and two runs scored. Hernandez had three hits and two RBI, including a run-scoring triple in the sixth inning.
Sean Roby left a big imprint on the series for Salem-Keizer. His three-run, first-inning home run off Erin Baldwin shortly after play resumed began the Volcanoes' scoring outburst. The league-leader in on-base percentage reached base three more times Saturday night, contributing an RBI single in the big third inning. Conner Grammes (0-2) started on the hill under falling rain in the first inning, but walked leadoff batter Tyler Fitzgerald and threw two balls to Hunter Bishop after play resumed. Both teams came back with a new pitcher after the long delay.
The Hops, still leading the South Division second-half standings by a game over the Volcanoes and Eugene Emeralds, open a three-game road series at Everett Sunday afternoon, with pregame coverage starting at 3:35 p.m. and the first pitch at 4:05.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.