KEIZER, Ore. - The Salem-Keizer Volcanoes fell just shy of picking up their second win of 2017 with a 4-3 defeat by the hands of the Tri-City Dust Devils at Volcanoes Stadium.
The Volcanoes found themselves down early in the ballgame when the Dust Devils second baseman Kelvin Melean chopped a single through the left side of the infield to score teammate Tre Carter. Fortunately, Salem-Keizer was able to escape further turmoil when Dust Devils third baseman Boomer White was thrown out at third base on the play by the cut-off throw.
Nonetheless, the home crowd did not have to wait too long before the Volcanoes responded. Salem-Keizer knotted the score at one in the bottom half of the first inning by playing some small ball.
Volcanoes centerfielder Malique Ziegler led off the inning with a hit-by-pitch. Ziegler then stole second base, and after moving to third on a ground out, scored on a slow dribbler by right fielder Juan Rodriguez knotting the game up at 1-1.
The Volcanoes starting hurler Julio Benitez tossed up a goose egg in the top of the second inning. In the bottom frame, Salem-Keizer had runners on first and second base with two outs, but the squad could not cash in when Ziegler was called out on strikes.
One inning later, the Volcanoes came up empty-handed when designated hitter Gustavo Cabrera was caught looking for strike three to end the frame and the threat.
Luckily for the Volcanoes, Benitez settled into the contest after a wobbly first inning. He finished with a line of five innings of one-run ball, it was unearned, striking out six batters while walking just one and surrendering four hits.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, the Volcanoes finally capitalized on a scoring chance. Shortstop Kevin Rivera led off the frame with a triple to right field and scored thereafter when Rodriguez pounced on the first pitch by Dust Devils relief man Dauris Valdez for a 2-1 lead.
Unfortunately, that lead was short-lived, as the Dust Devils countered with two runs of their own in the top of the sixth inning. A single, double and a walk resulted in a bases loaded jam with no outs for Volcanoes reliever Luis Pino.
Pino then induced a 6-4-3 double play off of the bat of Dust Devils designated hitter Steve Bean, which tied the ballgame at 3-3. Pino then threw a wild pitch to the next Tri-City batter Wilfri De La Cruz, scoring the go-ahead run as the Dust Devils led 4-3 by innings end.
The score continued to teeter-totter heading into the Volcanoes' half of the inning. Volcanoes left fielder Christoph Bono laced a single to center field with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning and would later advance to second on a balk.
Bono then attempted to steal third base, and was almost caught in a rundown, but somehow eluded the tag by Melean and was called safe. The Dust Devils manager Ben Fritz, immediately ran out of the dugout and immersed himself in a heated debate with first base umpire Mitch Wilson, who eventually grew tired of Fritz's jawing and gave the skipper the hook. Fritz gave his last few cents to Wilson before he stormed back to the dugout. Tri-City pitching coach Josh Spence was also ejected for arguing the call on the field.
Next up was the Volcanoes second baseman Amion, who grounded a base hit down the left field line, scored Bono tying the game at 3-3.
The Dust Devils eventually overtook the Volcanoes in the top of the eighth inning. Volcanoes reliever John Timmins walked Dust Devils right fielder Luis Asuncion. Asuncion then swiped second base and then took third after Parra airmailed the throw to second and Ziegler bobbled the ball in the outfield.
Melean then drove in Asuncion with a base hit for his second run batted in of the game, giving Tri-City a 4-3 advantage that stayed through the bottom of the ninth.
In the final frame, the Volcanoes had the tying run on second base, but Rodriguez on a 3-2 offering got jammed and hit a slow chopper to Dust Devils shortstop Luis Almanzar who corralled the ball and threw Rodriguez out at first to seal the victory for Tri-City.
The Volcanoes will wrap up their five-game series with the Dust Devils tomorrow at 6:35 p.m. Tomorrow's starting pitcher for Salem-Keizer has yet to be announced, while Tri-City will have southpaw Osvaldo Hernandez on the bump.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.