Mavericks catcher Danny Alvarado, who is a senior at South Salem High School, gets introduced during Opening Day festivities (KEIZERTIMES/Matt Rawlings).
After months of preparation, the Mavericks League kicked off its inaugural season in front of over 1,000 fans at Volcanoes Stadium on Thursday, May 13.
The Opening Day game saw the Portland Mavericks, in their first contest in over four decades, defeat the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes by a score of 4-2.
“I want the boys to recognize after everything that has gone on is that playing baseball is truly a privilege,” Mavericks manager Alan Embree said. “This is special and it’s something I want to be a part of.”
“It was a blast. I actually thought we played really well, just got the short end of the stick,” Volcanoes skipper Tony Torcato added.
Regardless of the result, the evening served as a celebration of semi-professional baseball being played at Volcanoes Stadium for the first time in nearly two years.
“It has been pure elation for us. It is wonderful to actually see some baseball here, and good baseball at that,” Mavericks League CEO Mickey Walker said. “There were fans in the stands, cold beer being served and baseball being played. All-in-all, it was an absolutely wonderful day.”
The Volcanoes got on the board first thanks to an RBI-single to left field by CJ Epperson. However, that would be the only run the Volcanoes would get off Mavericks starter Riley Newman as the Salem-native threw five innings for the Mavericks and gave up just one run on three hits while striking out six.
“(Newman) kept the hitters off-balance, which you got to give him credit for. I also think we had some first-game jitters. I know we are a good hitting team, I think we were a little too amped up and tried to do too much at the plate,” Torcato said.
“Riley did a good job of pounding the zone and staying ahead of hitters,” Embree added.
Volcanoes starter Logan Dubbe also gave an outstanding performance on the bump, pitching 4.2 innings without giving up a run.
“Logan is a competitor who has a great arm. He hit his spots when he needed to. He pitched like a stud,” Torcato said.
After going scoreless for the first five frames, getting Dubbe off the mound was the turning point for the Mavericks offense in the top of the sixth as they got a solo home run off of Volcanoes righty Mason McAlistar to tie the score up at 1-1.
“Hitting is contagious and once we got one, we started to grind,” Embree said.
The Volcanoes got the lead back in the bottom of the sixth on a solo-blast from Epperson for his second RBI of the night, giving his team the lead at 2-1.
In the top of the seventh, however, the Mavericks came back to take the lead for good. After McAlistar issued a two-out walk, Torcato brought on sidewinder Matt McDonald to face Matt Holiday, and the Mavericks slugger drove a fastball deep over the left field wall to put the Mavericks up 3-2.
Holiday would drive in another run in the top of the ninth on a sacrifice fly to left field to extend the Mavericks lead to 4-2.
Travis Edgar came in for the Mavericks in the bottom of the ninth to close the game out with a pair of strikeouts.
“They stayed together. We had plenty of miscues but guys picked each other up,” Embree said. “I am very proud of how they responded.”
Matt Rawlings: [email protected]