KEIZER, Ore. - The Salem-Keizer Volcanoes had the tying run 90 feet away in the bottom of the ninth, but were unable to come up big in the clutch and fell to the Boise Hawks 3-2 in the rubber match of a three-game series at Volcanoes Stadium.
Both teams were locked into a pitchers duel from the get-go. Volcanoes starting pitcher Jose Marte did not have stellar control on the evening with four walks in 4.1 innings of work, but he flashed his best stuff when his squad needed him most.
In the top of the second inning, with a runner on second with one out, Marte struck out the next two batsmen to put the kibosh on the Hawks' threat. Marte wiggled his way out of another pickle in the top of the fourth when he whiffed the final two hitters with two runners on base.
On the other side of the ball, Boise starting hurler Rico Garcia matched Marte inning for inning, batter for batter in dominant fashion. He did not allow a base runner until the bottom of the fourth inning when Volcanoes shortstop Manuel Geraldo singled off of him. Garcia also struck out seven batters.
Boise's offense was knocking on the door in the top of the fifth inning with a runner on third with one out. Volcanoes right-handed pitcher Luis Pino relieved Marte and walked the first batter he faced, but retired the next two batters to maneuver his way out of the inning.
The Hawks finally broke through and pushed across the game's first run in the top of the sixth inning. Salem-Keizer righty John Russell took the bump in the middle of the inning with an inherited runner and walked, plunked and walked the first three Hawks to force in a run as the Volcanoes trailed 1-0.
However, the Volcanoes did not cower, and retook the lead in the bottom half of the sixth. Catcher Rob Calabrese led off with a single. During the next at-bat, Boise catcher Austin Bernard attempted to pick off Calabrese at first base, but airmailed the throw. The ball trickled all the way into the Volcanoes' bullpen out in right field foul territory, allowing Calabrese to sprint his way to third base.
Later in the frame, left fielder Logan Baldwin - in a 2-2 count - lined a heater back towards the mound, off of Garcia's glove and into center field to score Calabrese and tie the score at 1-1 all. Baldwin eventually reached second on a throwing error by Garcia on a pick-off attempt and scored on a base hit by shortstop Manuel Geraldo to hand the Volcanoes a 2-1 advantage.
Unfortunately, Salem-Keizer's only had a whiff of the lead thanks to Boise right fielder Daniel Jipping who demolished a game-tying solo home run in the top of the seventh. Jipping was not gypted on the 3-1 pitch, and corked a screamer over the 16-foot tall batter's eye out in center field, 405 feet away.
The score remained knotted at 2-2 until the top of the ninth. Leading off the inning, Hawks second baseman Brett Boswell pulled a deep drive over the right field wall for the go-ahead solo shot and a 3-2 lead.
Facing their last licks, the Volcanoes put the tying run on the base paths in the bottom of the ninth when first baseman Ryan Kirby began the inning with a walk. Second baseman Orland Garcia then bunted Kirby over to second base, pushing his line to 0-for-3 as his 11-game hit streak came to a close on the night.
Third baseman Michael Sexton grounded out to Hawks shortstop Matt McLaughlin, moving Kirby over to third and passing the baton to Calabrese. Alas, the Volcanoes' catcher could not check his swing on a 0-2 pitch, as the Hawks clanged to the 3-2 victory.
Nate Harris (1-0) earned the win for the Hawks in relief, pitching two innings and striking out four. Peter Lannoo (0-1) took the loss for the Volcanoes after serving up the go-ahead tater to Boswell.
Salem-Keizer will travel to Spokane, Washington to face the Spokane Indians in a five-game set at Avista Stadium. Volcanoes right-handed pitcher Julio Benitez (0-0, 3.65 ERA) will go up against Indians righty Tai Tiedemann (2-1, 3.12). First pitch is at 6:30 p.m.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.