After watching his team and the Tri-City Dust Devils combine for four runs in the first two games of the Northwest League Championship Series, Salem-Keizer manager Tom Trebelhorn expected more offense once the scene shifted to Volcanoes Stadium.
He was half-right.
Craig Westcott struck out seven over seven dominant innings and Evan Crawford went 3-for-4 with two runs scored Wednesday as Salem-Keizer blanked the Dust Devils, 7-0, to move within a win of its third title in four years.
Runs were at a premium at Tri-City, where the teams split a pair of 2-0 contests. And while the Dust Devils' struggles at the plate continued, the Volcanoes staked Westcott to a comfortable early lead.
"It takes a lot of pressure off," said Westcott, the Giants' 30th-round pick in the 2009 Draft. "We were scoring one run, then four runs and two runs. That gives me an opportunity to throw a lot of strikes, a lot of fastballs ahead in the count."
Westcott (1-0), who went 7-0 in 14 regular-season appearances for the Volcanoes and Arizona League Giants, limited Tri-City to three hits and two walks in the longest outing of his brief career.
"I threw strikes," the 23-year-old right-hander said. "My two-seam [fastball] was working real good. I got a lot of ground-ball outs. Our pitching coach (Brian Cooper) says get ahead of them, throw the breaking stuff later on."
Mario Rodriguez walked the bases loaded with one out in the eighth, but Brandon Graves got Kent Matthes to hit into an inning-ending double play, then struck out two in a 1-2-3 ninth.
By then, Salem-Keizer may have been looking ahead to Thursday, when it will have a chance to reclaim its Northwest League dominance. The Volcanoes were denied a three-peat last year by the Spokane Indians.
"I'm sure everyone will be thinking about it, but we've just got to perform like we did tonight," Westcott said. "We've got Wilber Bucardo going and we have confidence in him."
Crawford, a 2009 ninth-rounder, got the Volcanoes going with a leadoff double in the bottom of the first and scored on Luke Anders' two-out single. He also had an RBI double and scored again in the second.
Dust Devils starter Daniel Perkins (0-1), who was fifth in the league with a 2.80 ERA during the season, was charged with all seven runs on seven hits and three walks in two-plus innings.