Seventh-inning rally puts Volcanoes over the top

Volcanoes shortstop David Kyriacou gets back to first base after a pick-off attempt (KEIZERTIMES/Matt Rawlings).

Despite striking out 11 times on the night, the Volcanoes offense came alive in crunch time.

With the score tied 2-2, the Volcanoes erupted for six runs in the bottom of the seventh in route to their 8-5 victory over the Mavericks on Friday, July 16.

“It is all about resilience. We have a great lineup one through nine. Even though we went through a few innings where we weren’t hitting the ball, I had confidence that our lineup will eventually get the job done at some point in the game,” Volcanoes manager Tony Torcato said.

In his first game with the Volcanoes, shortstop David Kyriacou led the way by going 2-for-2 at the plate with a pair of RBIs and two runs scored. Kyriacou also walked three times and stole a pair of bases.

“David can really hit and he is a great ballplayer all around. He brings a lot of energy to the team,” Torcato said.

With two outs in the bottom of the second, Bryan Ruby got the Volcanoes going with a bloop-single over third base. After advancing to second on a wild pitch, Ruby scored moments later on a hard-hit RBI-single to center field by Landen Barnes to put the Volcanoes on top 1-0.

The Mavericks, however, responded in the top of the third.

Danny Garcia led off the inning with a single down the third base line and moved to second on a wild pitch.

With one out in the frame, after Garcia got to third on a sacrifice bunt, Alex Emerson lifted a shallow fly ball to left field. Although Volcanoes left fielder Sam Jones was able to make the catch, he struggled to read the ball off the bat and ended up catching the ball off-balance, allowing Garcia to tag up and score from third, tying the game at 1-1.

The Mavericks got another run off Volcanoes starter Brenden Nipp in the top of the fifth on another sacrifice fly, this time courtesy of Rodny Rodriguez, giving the Mavericks their first lead at 2-1. Nipp lasted 4.2 innings and gave up just three hits and two earned runs on 73 pitches.

The Mavericks had a chance to hang a crooked number on the board as Torcato brought in reliever Jonah Van Bemmelen to face Jordan Drake with two outs and the bases loaded. But Van Bemmelen forced Drake to ground out to third, ending the inning.

Salem-Keizer tied the game in the bottom of the sixth when Tony Holton knocked in Kyriacou with an RBI-single to center field to tie the game.

Mavericks starter Garrett Alvarez had good command for the majority of the game, striking out 10 over six innings and giving up four hits and two runs. But when he came off the mound in the bottom of the seventh, the Volcanoes took full advantage.

One-out singles by Barnes and Garett Kueber started the Volcanoes threat, then Mavericks right-hander loaded the bases when he hit Jones, the nine-batter, with a fastball, bringing up Kyriacou in the leadoff spot.

After looking at a couple pitches, Kyriacou came through with the first extra-base hit of the ball game, driving a two-run double down the right field line, putting Salem-Keizer on top 4-2.

Newman was replaced by Travis Edgar, who struck out the first batter he faced, but the ball reached the backstop on a wild pitch, allowing another run to come in and score.

Ruby and Gabriel Cotto each had RBI-hits later in the frame to break the game open, giving the Volcanoes the 8-2 advantage.

“It all starts with a big hit. Once we get that momentum, we start to put together better at-bats. We worked the count and we got on base,” Torcato said.

Closer Matt McDonald, who came into the game in the top of the eighth with a runner on second, was the Volcanoes fourth pitcher of the night. Despite the Mavericks getting three runs in the frame, and bringing the tying run to the dish in the top of the ninth, McDonald was still able to shut the door to get his fifth save of the season.

“We have been going with Johnny Whole-Staff the last couple of weeks,” joked Torcato. “We have been piecing together our bullpen and trying to get guys in at the right time. But I have a lot of confidence in our bullpen.”

Matt Rawlings: