KEIZER, Ore. -- The Tri-City Dust Devils scored early and often to take a commanding series lead in game three of the five game set against the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. The Dust Devils leadoff man, shortstop Justin Lopez set the tone offensively for Tri-City when he pounced on the first pitch
KEIZER, Ore. -- The Tri-City Dust Devils scored early and often to take a commanding series lead in game three of the five game set against the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes.
The Dust Devils leadoff man, shortstop Justin Lopez set the tone offensively for Tri-City when he pounced on the first pitch of the game by Volcanoes starting southpaw Sidney Duprey for a leadoff double down the left field line. After moving to third on a sacrifice bunt, Lopez would sprint home and score on a passed ball to put the Dust Devils on the board first.
Duprey, starting his first game for the Volcanoes, would allow three hits and two runs in the second frame, but thanks to a heads up defensive play by centerfielder Malique Ziegler in which he nabbed Tre Carter rounding second too aggressively, the would-be fourth run of the game was negated.
The Dust Devils right-hander Will Stillman looked to be in complete control through two innings by retiring the first six hitters, including four via the strikeout. However, the dominance that Stillman asserted over Volcanoes hitters vanished quickly in the third when Stillman issued a hit and two free passes to load the bases. After working the count full with the bags juiced and two away, third baseman Byron Murray would swing through a high fastball to end the inning. The Volcanoes would not register a run in the inning, but their rally was enough to chase Stillman from the game.
In the fifth, the Dust Devils padded onto their lead when an RBI groundout pushed the Dust Devils shortstop Luis Almanzar across the plate. Tri-City then capitalized on a defensive miscue in the inning, extending their advantage to 5-0.
Ziegler led off the sixth inning with a walk and then took off on a steal attempt in the face of lefthander Ben Scheckler. When Sheckler saw Ziegler bolt towards second, he picked off to first, but Ziegler's speed hurried first baseman Felipe Blanco, which forced him to drop the ball, allowing Ziegler to slide into second base safely. Ziegler eventually scampered into to score on a seeing eye single from shortstop Manuel Geraldo. New manager Jolbert Cabrera aggressive base running philosophy has been on display in the early going as the Volcanoes lead the Northwest League in stolen bases with eight swiped bags through the first three games.
The Dust Devils would tack on two more runs in the seventh to push their advantage to 7 to 1, but the score wouldn't stay there for long.
In the bottom half of the inning, a walk by third baseman AJ Ramirez and a single by right fielder Mikey Edie would set up Ziegler, who slapped a soft line drive to right center, drawing the Volcanoes one run closer. With a 7 to 2 deficit, Volcanoes first baseman Ryan Kirby laced a sinking liner to left to bring the tying run to the plate with left fielder Robinson Medrano at the dish. Medrano, who going into the at-bat was off to a torrid 6 for 12 start at the plate, would eventually fly out to left, ending the Salem-Keizer threat.
The Dust Devils would score two insurance runs in the top half of the eighth to put the game out of reach at 9-3, which is where the game would remain.
Left fielder Luis Asuncion stayed red hot at the plate for the Dust Devils, going 3 for 4 to push his season average to .462. On the mound, Jose Galindo earned the win for Tri-City by throwing 1.1 scoreless innings.
For the Volcanoes, Ziegler once again was the catalyst out of the leadoff spot, reaching base four times, including two hits and a walk. Ziegler has now reached base in 8 of his last 11 plate appearances for Salem-Keizer.
The Volcanoes will look to even up the series against the Dust Devils on Sunday night when Volcanoes left hander Alex Bostic will face off against righty hurler Henry Henry (that's not a typo) at 5:05 p.m.