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Hops Down Volcanoes, 7-4Salem-News.com Sports
Salem-Keizer struck first, scoring in the first three innings.
(HILLSBORO, Ore. ) - The Volcanoes entered Friday evening's contest just three games back of the Hops in the Northwest League South Division standings; a win would move them one step closer to clinching a playoff berth with a first-half championship.
Hillsboro had other plans, however, as they scored four two-out runs in the bottom of the eighth to walk away from Ron Tonkin field with a 7-4 victory.
Salem-Keizer struck first, scoring in the first three innings. With two away in the top of the first, Christian Arroyo singled up the middle before stealing second base. Skyler Ewing continued to excel in his role as cleanup hitter, singling home Arroyo.
With a 1-0 lead in hand, Salem-Keizer went back to work in the second frame. T Relaford led off the inning with a triple to deep left-center field, his second three-bagger of the year. On the next play, Hops' center fielder Jordan Parr made a great catch to rob Jonathan Jones of a base hit. Despite the superb defensive play, a run came in to score as Relaford crossed the plate on Jones' sacrifice fly.
The Volcanoes made it three straight run-scoring innings with another tally in the third. Arroyo reached second base on a throwing error before being scored by Skyler Ewing, who recorded yet another RBI base hit.
Starting pitcher Nick Gonzalez retired the first eight Hillsboro batters in order before allowing consecutive base hits in the bottom of the third. Pedro Ruiz plated Justin Gonzalez to trim the Volcanoes' lead to 3-1 after three innings.
The Hops drew nearer with a run in the bottom of the fifth. Elvin Soto tripled to lead off the inning; he would come around to score on George Roberts' RBI double.
Hillsboro finally tied the Volcanoes in the sixth inning after back-to-back doubles to start the frame.
The Volcanoes did not wait long to respond and reclaim their lead. T Relaford began the inning with his second hit of the night. Jonathan Jones continued his hot hitting of late with a run-scoring double to put Salem-Keizer back in front.
The Hops did not go down quietly, however, as they put the pressure on in the bottom of the eighth inning. Ian Gardeck retired the first two Hillsboro batters with relative ease. Jake Mayers single-handedly changed the course of the game by lining a ball off of Gardeck. Visibly shaken up, Gardeck tried to stick with the play but pulled Ewing off of the bag at first to extend the inning for Hillsboro.
The floodgates were opened following that play, as the Hops strung together three straight singles to tie the score at four. Kirk Singer was called upon with runners on the corners in two outs, trying to get the Volcanoes to the ninth with the tie intact. Again, Hillsboro did not comply with Salem-Keizer's plans, scoring on a bases-loaded wild pitch and a two-RBI single to go up 7-4.
The Volcanoes had no rebuttal in the top of the ninth, dropping to 13-15 in the first half and four games back of Hillsboro in the South Division.
Skyler Ewing collected four hits and tallied two more RBIs to run his count to 11 in just five games with the Volcanoes.
Up Next: The Volcanoes will visit Ron Tonkin Field for the middle game of this three-game series, and the final game in Hillsboro. Ethan Miller (1-1, 6.85) will take the mound for the Volcanoes, facing Hops' starter Brent Jones (2-1, 3.32). First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. with the pregame show coming to you live on 1490 AM KBZY at 6:05 p.m.
Source: Salem-Keizer Volcanoes
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