Campesinos outfielder Joseph Nunn Jr. sprints towards home plate after rounding third (KEIZERTIMES/Matt Rawlings).
Campesinos manager Daniel Roberton describes his team as “resilient and relentless.”
The first-place squad lived up to that description on Friday, June 25 in their game against the Volcanoes
After trailing for the majority of the contest, the Campesinos scored a run to tie the game in the top of the eighth, and then exploded for runs in the ninth to defeat the Volcanoes by a score of 8-4.
Rick Phillips went 3-for-5 with a pair of extra-base hits, as well as two RBIs and two runs scored for the Campesinos.
“They fought to the end and it was fun to watch. I enjoy watching our guys play night in and night out,” Robertson said.
A common theme in the Mavericks League over the last few weeks has been players and managers being increasingly discontent with the umpiring — Volcanoes manager Tony Torcato was briefly suspended for bumping an umpire after being ejected — and the issue continued in this one.
In the bottom of the first, after looking at a questionable first-pitch strike, Volcanoes first baseman Nick DiBenedetto was tossed by the home plate umpire for arguing balls and strikes. This was one of several grievances that both teams had with the umpiring crew over the course of the contest.
“Let’s just say it was us versus more than just nine tonight. But I felt like that is what made (the win) so special. Our guys didn’t get rattled, they didn’t give in. They just kept playing,” Robertson said.
The Campesinos took the early lead in the top of the first with an RBI-groundout by Patrick Chung, but the Volcanoes responded in the following frame when Drew Schutt crushed a three-run bomb over the left field fence off Campesinos pitcher Colby Nealy, putting Salem-Keizer up 3-1.
It would be the only blemish on an otherwise stellar outing from Nealy, who threw seven innings and struck out 10, while giving up five hits and three earned runs.
“He is a stud, honestly. Watching him go out and do his thing was special,” Robertson said.
The Campesinos cut the lead to one in the top of the third thanks to an RBI-single by Phillips, but the Volcanoes got it back in the bottom of the fifth when normally sure-handed shortstop Trevor Morrison committed a throwing error, allowing Sam Jones to score from third.
In the top of the sixth, the Campesinos got an unearned run off Volcanoes pitcher Brenden Nipp. After being hit by a pitch, Collin Runge advanced to second on a balk, then stole third. Volcanoes catcher Brenden Barnes tried to throw out Runge at third, but the ball got past his intended target and went into the outfield, allowing Runge to score.
Nipp went five innings in relief for the Volcanoes and struck out seven while only giving up five hits, but in the top of the eighth, a clutch hit from Phillips tied the game at 4-4.
Phillips blasted a ball to the warning track in deep right field. Volcanoes right fielder Tony Holton initially looked like he had made the catch at the wall, but dropped it on the transfer. Much to Holton’s dismay, the base umpire ruled it a no-catch.
Phillis came into third for a triple, but when the relay thow sailed past the cutoff man, the league’s RBI and home run leader came into score, giving the Campesinos all the momentum.
“I have noticed that pitchers have kind of been pitching to me differently, throwing a lot of off-speed stuff,” Phillips said. “I was thinking about hitting the ball to right center and letting the ball get deep, and it played in my favor tonight,” Phillips said.
After Andrew Baxter came in to pitch a 1-2-3 frame in the bottom of the eighth, the Campesinos offense broke the game open in the top of the ninth.
Fernando Rosales got the threat going with a one-out, pinch-hit double, then advanced to third on an error from the Volcanoes. Chung came through with the go-ahead RBI-single moments later, which was followed by an RBI-double by Phillips, putting the Campesinos up 6-4.
“I think it was us just trusting our approaches and doing what we have to do as a team to score runs,” Phillips said.
The Campesinos got two more insurance runs on a sacrifice fly by Runge and an RBI-single from Morrison.
“We had a lot of barrels early, they were just right at guys. But they stuck with it. They stuck with their approach and they stayed resilient,” Robertson said. They don’t take any pitches off.”
Matt Rawlings: [email protected]