Trevor Morrison daps up Campesinos manager Daniel Robertson after hitting a two-run homer (KEIZERTIMES/Matt Rawlings).
Throughout the season, the Campesinos have shown that they can win in a multitude of different ways, and on Friday, July 30, they proved it once again.
Trailing 4-0 in the bottom of the fourth, the Campesinos rallied for five runs in the frame, all with two outs, propelling them to a 7-5 victory over the Volcanoes.
Eric Whitfield went 2-for-4 with two homers and three RBIs in the Campesinos victory.
“That is what a championship team does. You have to find different ways to win throughout the season, so that way when playoff baseball comes, you are dealt every scenario. Hopefully through the season you take the lessons you learn on how to get it done and you find a way to get it done again,” Campesinos manager Daniel Robertson said.
With a 3.64 ERA, Campesinos starting pitcher Eli Fultz has been usually reliable for his team this season. However, the left-hander fell victim to the long ball in his 4.1 innings of work.
In the top of the second, Bryan Ruby put the Volcanoes on the board with a solo homer to left field. In the following frame, Kevin Jordan Jr. blasted a two-run shot to extend Salem-Keizer's lead to 3-0.
Caleb Johnson got in on the home run action in the top of the fourth with a solo shot to left field to make the score 4-0.
Although Fultz gave up four runs in his 4.1 innings of work, his bullpen picked up the slack for him as Jacob Esa and Luke Laurita gave up just one run on three hits in the final 4.2 innings.
“That is what this team is about. They are so close and they care so much about each other, and they do an unbelievable job of picking each other up,” Robertson said. “Fultz has been one of our best guys all year, and he is going to continue to be one of our best guys. But Asa did an amazing job for us. He is fresh out of college and he is taking full advantage of his opportunity.”
After surrendering three homers in four innings to the Volcanoes, the Campesinos jumped ahead thanks to a pair of long balls of their own off Volcanoes starter Phillip Rowland.
With two gone in the bottom of the fourth, Campesinos shortstop Trevor Morrison continued his torrid hitting pace by crushing a two-run homer to right field. Then, after a questionable no-call on a check swing that went in Whitfield's favor with two strikes, the Campesinos first baseman took advantage of the second chance and crushed a solo shot to left field, cutting the lead to one.
After a walk by Sergio Rey and a base hit by Drew Bayard, Joseph Nunn Jr. hit a soft ground ball that hit off the third base bag and caromed into the outfield, allowing Rey to score from second to tie the game. Rowland was then taken out of the game and replaced by Brendan Nipp.
“Hats off to Rowland, he was throwing great in the first few innings. He was hitting his spots and kept us off-balance. But we just kept pounding. These guys work so hard throughout the week to stay prepared,” Robertson said.
Even with Nipp on the mound, the Campesinos continued the rally as Nick Ybarra came through with an RBI-single to give the Campesinos their first lead at 5-4.
The score would stay that way until the bottom of the eighth.
With one-on and one out, Whitfield stepped to the plate looking to give the Campesinos some insurance going into the ninth inning. However, Whitfield popped a ball up into foul ground near the Volcanoes dugout, but Ruby, the first baseman, misjudged the ball as it fell harmlessly to the grass.
Two pitchers later, Whitfield popped another ball up in foul territory, and once again the ball was misplayed by Ruby up the right field line.
“That one that went down the right field line had shades off the Arkansas game,” joked Robertson, in reference to the 2018 College World Series game where Arkansas dropped an easy fly ball against Oregon State in the ninth inning — Robertson played at Oregon State and was briefly an assistant coach at the school.
On the following pitch, Whitfield took advantage of the gifts he was given, blasting a two-run homer to right field, putting the Campesinos up 7-4.
“The insurance was huge. (Whitfield) had to make adjustments too. It is not his fault that they couldn't catch a fly ball,” Robertson said. “At the end of the day, it's about who can make the adjustment first.”
Despite trailing by three runs, the Volcanoes made things interesting in the top of the ninth as a pair of free passes with one out brought the tying run to the plate. After Jordan Jr. reached on a fielder's choice, Tony Holton got on with an RBI infield-single. But the following hitter, Nick Adgar, who represented the go-ahead run, struck out to end the game.
Matt Rawlings: [email protected]