KEIZER, Ore. - Salem-Keizer looked like a much-improved team in the first two games of the second half of the Northwest League season, notching two victories over the league-leading Spokane Indians. The trend continued into Thursday evening as Salem-Keizer clinched a series victory with an 8-2 win at Volcanoes Stadium.
An offensive outburst of eight runs in the third inning was all it took for Salem-Keizer to cruise to their third win in as many nights. In a frame where the Volcanoes sent 12 batters to the plate, Shilo McCall was the highlight with a grand slam home run to left field. It was McCall's second blast in the last two games and third of the season, all three finding the same spot over the left field fence of Volcanoes Stadium.
Searching for their first run after falling behind 1-0 early, T Relaford stepped in with runners on second and third with two outs for Salem-Keizer. Relaford scorched a ground ball past third base - hugging just fair down the left field line - sliding into second base with a go-ahead two-RBI double. Relaford came in to score on a base hit by Will Callaway in the ensuing at bat.
Spokane starting pitcher Nick Gardewine hit Skyler Ewing and walked Sam Mende to load the bases for McCall, who smashed the grand slam. The momentous long ball from McCall was just the third grand slam across the Northwest League this season and the first in the month of July.
Brett Kay added an additional run of insurance to the Volcanoes newly-obtained lead, singling in Jonathan Jones for the eighth run of the inning. It was the first time Salem-Keizer tallied eight or more runs in a single inning since September 1, 2013. McCall's grand slam also marked the first Volcanoes' grand slam since that same game on September 1, 2013.
Salem-Keizer starter Drew Leenhouts held Spokane to just two runs through seven innings of work, benefitting from the Volcanoes strong offensive showing to pick up his second win of the campaign. Leenhouts scattered six hits, struck out six and walked none.
McCall continued his offensive resurgence of late which has seen his batting average inflate from .170 on July 12 to .214, where it sits now. McCall is riding a career-high eight-game hitting streak which currently ranks third amongst active streaks in the league.
Up Next: With a series victory in hand, the Volcanoes will attempt to better their 3-0 second half record when they meet up with Spokane once again on Friday night. Jose Reyes (3-3, 3.44) climbs the hill for Salem-Keizer hot off of tossing an eight-inning one-hitter his last time out. Reyes is 3-0 with a 2.08 ERA in his last four starts. He faces Spokane's right-hander Richelson Pena who has an impressive résumé of his own, entering Friday's contest with a 4-1 record and a 2.52 ERA. It is Striking Out Meth in Marion-Polk Counties night at the ballpark, an event which promises to deliver family activities, interactive displays, on-field demonstrations, prizes, and even a post-game fireworks show. First pitch is set for 6:35 p.m.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.