By HERB SWETT
For the Keizertimes
The only time the Volcanoes were ahead in this one was the final moment of the game.
After trailing the Tri-City Dust Devils 5-2 in the middle of the ninth inning, Salem-Keizer won the rubber game of the series and the last regular-season home game of this year 6-5.
The crowd of 2,385 saw Aramis Garcia hit a bases-loaded single that scored Skyler Ewing. In the top of the ninth, Eury Sanchez set the visitors from Pasco down in order, striking out two.
Tri-City’s first run came in the second inning. Sam Bumpers led off with a single to center field and went to second base as Ryan Garvey grounded out. A ground out by Wilson Soriano moved Bumpers to third, and Robbie Perkins drove him in with a single to center.
The Dust Devils added two runs in the third. Shane Hoelscher led off with a single to left. Sean Dwyer singled to left center and reached second on left fielder Johneshwy Fargas’ throw as Hoelscher went to third. A wild pitch by starter Jose Reyes sent Hoelscher home and Dwyer to third. Another wild pitch scored Dwyer.
In the bottom of the third, the Volcanoes cut Tri-City’s lead to a run. Travious Relaford, on a three-ball, two-strike count, hit an infield single. Fargas reached first on a force attempt as second baseman Bumpers made an error, with Relaford going to second. Austin Slater doubled to left, driving in Relaford and Fargas. Slater went to third, and Ewing hit a grounder to Hoelscher, the third baseman. Slater tried to score on the play but was called out. Manager Gary Davenport disputed the call and was ejected. Batting coach Ricky Ward took Davenport’s usual place in the third base coaching box.
Because Reyes was not having one of his better starts despite holding Tri-City scoreless in the next two innings, Drew Leenhouts came in to pitch the sixth. His start was rough. Perkins led off with a single to center, stole second base and went to third on catcher Garcia’s throwing error. Drew Weeks drove in Perkins with a triple to center. Hoelscher scored Weeks with a double to center.
In the Volcano eighth, Sam Moll relieved starter Logan Sawyer. Moll, a left-hander, retired the side in order but was relieved in the eighth by the right-handed Dylan Thompson to face Ewing, the right-handed cleanup hitter. Thompson walked Ewing, advanced him twice with wild pitches and walked Ryder Jones. Dylan Stamey took the mound and struck out Garcia but walked Dylan Davis to load the bases. However, he got Relaford to hit into an outfield double play.
After Sanchez, who was to become the winning pitcher, quickly retired the Dust Devils in the ninth, Seth Harrison hit a one-out Texas League single to center and reached to second on a wild pitch. Slater walked on a 3-and-2 count, and Christian Arroyo brought Harrison home with a single to center. Slater went to second. Josh Michalec was brought in to pitch to Ewing and loaded the bases by hitting him. Jones singled to right, driving in Slater and Arroyo. Garcia then hit the walk-off single, making Michalec the losing pitcher.
“They’ve been going with fast balls,” Garcia said, “and I got one I could hit.”
Davenport’s comment was, “Get kicked out of the game, and they get fired up and win.”
Sanchez, asked whether he saw his future as closing games, said, “I like the closer role, but it’s whatever the team wants.”