By HERB SWETT
For the Keizertimes
The Volcanoes reached the .500 mark for the second half of the 2012 season by edging the Tri-City Dust Devils 4-3 Tuesday at home.
Tri-City scored first, Salem-Keizer tied the score at 2-2 in the third inning, each club scored a run in the fifth, and a solo home run by Chuckie Jones in the sixth gave the Volcanoes the win. Tyler Graham was the winning pitcher in relief.
The first score of the game was a bases-empty homer by Miguel De Leon in the second. In the top of the third, Rossell Herrera led off with a double to center field. Starting pitcher Joe Biagini struck out Tom Murphy, but Francisco Sosa singled to left, where Kentrell Hill bobbled the ball, allowing Herrera to score. Biagini retired the next two hitters.
Ron Jones led off the Volcano third with a walk. Hill drove him home with a double to left and went to third on Brown’s deep fly to center. Mitch Delfino hit into a fielder’s choice, and an error by Herrera at shortstop allowed Hill to score.
In the Dust Devil fifth, Dillon Thomas led off with a Texas League single to center. A wild pitch sent him to second, and Herrera hit an infield single that put Thomas on third. Murphy drove in Thomas with a sacrifice fly to right.
Hill led off the Volcano fifth with a single to left on a three-ball, two-strike count. He went to third on a double to left by Delfino and scored when Mac Williamson hit a sacrifice fly to center.
Matt Graham pitched the sixth for the Volcanoes, allowing one single but striking out the other three batters. He became the winning pitcher when Chuckie Jones homered in the bottom of the sixth, hitting the scoreboard above center field. The home run was off Chris Dennis, who became the losing pitcher in relief.
Mason McVay pitched for Salem-Keizer in the seventh and eighth, loading the bases in the eighth with two out but getting Yafistel Roja to ground out.
In the Volcano eighth, with Josh Slaats pitching, Stephen Branca led off with a single to right and reached second on a sacrifice bunt but got no farther.
Tyler Mizenko pitched the top of the ninth and set the Dust Devils down in order, attaining his 13th save.
Tom Trebelhorn, the Volcanoes’ manager, said, “Biagini stayed tough, and everything worked out OK.” Asked why he relieved Graham after the three-strikeout inning, he said he wanted to get to the seventh with McVay, and “Graham was the bridge.”
Chuckie Jones said it was a fastball that he hit over the fence. He observed that with Joe Rapp and Matt Duffy on the disabled list, everyone was trying a little harder.
Graham, asked about the recent improvement in Volcano pitching, said, “The guys are just getting acclimated.”
A crowd of 2,157 chose the ball game over the Republican National Convention.