It was nu-baseball on full display Friday night at Volcanoes Stadium, where home runs were king and strikeouts acceptable, because...well because of those home runs.
The top offensive team in the Northwest League strutted its stuff as Salem-Keizer (8-7 second half, 34-19 overall) scored seven of its eight runs in the fourth and fifth innings, with three home runs, then knocked in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth for an 8-7 win over the Hops (10-5, 34-19).
After six consecutive Volcanoes batters fanned in the seventh and eighth innings, Harrison Freed and Brandon Martorano led off the bottom of the ninth with back-to-back base hits, Martorano's coming after a failed sacrifice bunt. Hops reliever Bryan Menendez (0-2) rang up his fourth strikeout after Tyler Fitzgerald fouled off two bunt attempts. But Hunter Bishop worked a full count walk to load the bases before Sean Roby, the league leader in on-base percentage, reached base for the third time, lining a single to right center to end a game that looked earlier as if it might go on all night.
The Volcanoes have won the first two games of the three-game series with Hillsboro, each by one run.
Andy Yerzy smacked his sixth home run of the year in the second inning to give Hillsboro a 2-0 lead. Hillsboro extended its lead to 4-0 in the in the fourth when Liover Peguero tripled and scored on an errant pickoff throw. Ryan January plated Corbin Carroll later in the inning with a two-out base hit.
Staked to a nice lead and coming off an inning in which he struck out the side, Hops right hander Wilfry Cruz quickly got knocked on the ropes. A leadoff single to left by Roby preceded a Logan Wyatt home run, the second in two nights for the Louisville second-rounder. Alex Canario followed with a deep home run to left center, the 13th of the year for the 19-year-old Giants prospect.
The Hops took a 6-3 lead in the top half of a marathon fifth inning, sparked by a leadoff double from Tristin English. Jesus Marriaga followed with a walk, leading to the departure of Salem-Keizer starting pitcher Prelander Berrora, acquired from Minnesota in a deadline deal. The deliberate Berroa gave way to the even slower-working Norwith Gudino, who (somewhat) promptly recorded two outs, but allowed both runners to score on wild pitches, prolonging the inning with two walks before a nearly 20-minute, 14-pitch battle with Ryan January ended with a ground out.
The Volcanoes continued to tattoo Cruz in the bottom of the fifth as Hunter Bishop tied the game with a three-run homer. Sean Roby walked and later scored from second on a Justin Garcia wild pitch to put Salem-Keizer up 7-6.
The Hops tied it in the eighth on a two-out RBI single by Tristin English and relievers Mailon Arroyo and Menendez zipped through the seventh and eighth by striking out the side before Roby's heroics in the ninth.
Five Hops pitchers combined for 15 strikeouts and every Volcano batter fanned at least once. Deiyerbert Bolivar (3-0) got credit for the win for Salem-Keizer, pitching a scoreless top of the ninth.
The newest Hops continued to produce. Carroll reached base three times, scoring two runs. Peguero and Dom Canzone each had extra-base hits. Marriaga reached base three times on walks and scored a run.
The Hops and Volcanoes wrap up the series Saturday night at 6:35, pregame airtime is at 6:05 on RIp City Radio 620 AM.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.