By HERB SWETT
For the Keizertimes
The last game in the first series between the Volcanoes and the Emeralds, a series Salem-Keizer had won the day before, went to Eugene, 2-1, on Saturday.
Each club had four hits and no errors, and most of the way Salem-Keizer played better than host Eugene, at least where hitting the ball hard and striking out batters were concerned, but the game ended up with Volcano reliever Steven Neff walking in the winning run.
The first run came on an inside-the-park home run in the third inning by Will Callaway, who had three of the Volcanoes’ four hits. Starting pitcher Drew Leenhouts, who stayed on the mound for seven innings with 11 strikeouts and no walks, had a perfect game going through five.
Examples of hitting the ball hard included a third-inning fly by Travious Relaford that was caught near the center field fence in the fourth inning. Relaford, who played second base because Ryan Jones had just been promoted to Augusta of the South Atlantic League, had the remaining Volcano hit, a single in the second that was followed by a double play. In the ninth, Craig Massoni also hit a deep fly to center.
The Emeralds and the crowd in PK Park thought Eugene had its first hit in the fifth. With two out, Chase Jensen hit a grounder to third baseman Callaway, who threw to first baseman Massoni on an extremely close play. There was a roar of boos from the stands, and Eugene manager argued with the umpire.
Wilson Santos came in to pitch for Eugene in the sixth inning and retired the Volcanoes in order with two strikeouts but was replaced by Chris Huffman at the start of the seventh.
In the Eugene sixth, Trae Santos tied the game with a home run over the right center field fence.
Manager Gary Davenport brought in Jake McCasland to pitch the eighth inning. He pitched his best inning of the season thus far, retiring the Emeralds in order with two strikeouts.
Max Beatty pitched a one-two-three inning for Eugene in the ninth.
Things got rough for McCasland in the ninth. Miguel Del Castillo led off with a single to left, and Rod Boykin went in to run for him. Cory Spangenberg bunted a single that put Boykin on second. Jalen Goree moved both runners up with a sacrifice bunt. Franchy Cordero was walked intentionally, and Steven Neff took the mound. A walk to Marcus Davis forced Boykin home.
The run was charged to McCasland, who became the losing pitcher, with Beatty the winner.