BY HERB SWETT
For the Keizertimes
A 12-inning 3-2 victory over visiting Boise opened the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes’ 2012 season Friday, June 15 before a crowd of 3,256.
One of last year’s Volcanoes pitchers, Matt Graham, won the game in relief. The winning run was scored by Sam Eberle shortly after he singled in his first professional plate appearance.
The game was scoreless through the first four innings. The visiting Hawks got their leadoff men on base through the first five innings and scored their first run of the game in the fifth. Rock Shoulders singled to right field to start the inning and moved to second base when Jeimer Candelario reached first on a fielder’s choice. Xavier Batista doubled to left, moving Shoulders to third. Shoulders scored as Dong-Yub Kim grounded out.
Jose Arias, Boise’s starting pitcher, retired the Volcanoes in order in the bottom of the fifth. In the top of the sixth, the Hawks’ Shawon Dunston Jr., the center fielder and son of the former Chicago Cubs star shortstop, grounded out, ending the string of leading off innings successfully. There was one hit in the Boise sixth, but a double play, third baseman Stephen Yarrow to second baseman Ryan Jones, kept the inning scoreless for Boise.
In the Volcanoes sixth, Boise brought in a new pitcher, Matt Spencer. With one out, Dashenko Ricardo struck out swinging but reached first base on a wild pitch. An error by shortstop Marco Hernandez in a force attempt put Kentrell Hill on first base and Ricardo on second. Michael Mergenthaler singled to center field, loading the bases. Chuckie Jones walked, forcing Ricardo home. Yarrow hit a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Hill.
Another wild pitch moved the runners to second and third, and Nicholson walked, reloading the bases. Rafael Diplan came in to pitch and retired Ryan Jones to end the inning, with Salem-Keizer ahead 2-1.
After seven innings, Keith Bilodeau relieved Volcanoes starter Lorenzo Mendoza, who had allowed six hits and one walk and struck out three. Bilodeau retired the Hawks in order with a strikeout.
The Volcanoes threatened in the eighth. Mergenthaler hit an infield single, went to second when an error put Chuckie Jones on first, and reached third on a force play. However, Rafael Rodriguez flew out and Bryan Nicholson struck out.
Tyler Mizenko took the mound for Salem-Keizer in the ninth. Gioskar Amaya led off the inning by reaching second base on a high throw from shortstop Matt Duffy. Hernandez singled to center, where an error by Chuckie Jones allowed Amaya to score. Mizenko retired the next three batters.
In the Volcanoes ninth, Ricardo, the starting catcher, doubled to center with one out. Andrew Cain came in as a pinch runner and was left stranded. Eberle came in to catch the extra innings. Bryce Shafer pitched the 10th and 11th for Boise.
Graham faced the Hawks in the 12th. Candelario doubled with one out, and Batista was intentionally walked. Kim grounded into a double play, Duffy to Ryan Jones to Nicholson.
The Volcanoes faced pitcher Pete Levitt in the 12th. Singles by Eberle, Hill and Mergenthaler, the last one a bunt, loaded the bases. An error by Hernandez put Chuckie Jones on first and scored Eberle.
Tom Trebelhorn, the Volcanoes’ manager, called the Salem-Keizer pitching “fantastic.”
“Mendoza was exceptional,” he said. “We didn’t exactly execute everything like we wanted to, but neither did they.”
Eberle said using a wood bat was not new to him, because he swung wood playing three summers during college. He added that he had not been strictly a catcher in college, also playing third base and the outfield. Asked what position he figured on playing long-range, he said, “I’ll play wherever they put me.”
Graham called the start of this season “a lot better” than the start of last year’s, in which the Volcanoes finished in the cellar of their division. Regarding the changes in teammates, he said, “That’s the fun part, seeing the new guys.”
R H E
Boise 000010001000- 2 8 4
Volcanoes 000002000001- 3 9 3
W – Graham (1-0)
L – Levitt (0-1)
Saturday: Volcanoes 7, Boise 4
Again coming from behind, Salem-Keizer had a two-run fifth inning after a 2-1 Boise lead in the second game of the home series.
Rafael Rodriguez had three hits and Brennan Metzger, Michael Mergenthaler, Andrew Cain and Matt Duffy two apiece for the Volcanoes. Joan Gregorio went six innings as the starting and winning pitcher, and Gaspar Santiago had a hold and Keith Bilodeau a save.
The Hawks hit the two home runs of the game, by Rock Shoulders in the second inning and Wilson Contreras in the seventh, each with the bases empty
It was a better-fielded game than the opener, with the Volcanoes making no errors and Boise one.
Sunday: Volcanoes 4, Boise 3
Salem-Keizer had its third straight come-from behind win, leading for the only time in the ninth inning on a walk-off single by Ryan Jones that scored Chuckie Jones.
Boise scored one run each in the second, fifth and eighth innings before the Volcanoes scored two runs in the bottom of the eighth. Rafael Rodriguez grounded into a force out with the bases loaded, driving in Michael Mergenthaler. Chuckie Jones advanced to third and scored on a single by Bryan Nicholson.
In the ninth, Brennan Metzger singled to score Mergenthaler from second, moving Chuckie Jones to third again. Ryan Jones then made the game-winning hit.
Raymundo Montero, the Volcanoes’ starting pitcher, gave up six hits and two runs in his five innings but struck out four and walked none. Ian Gardeck was the winning pitcher and third reliever.
Monday: Boise 6, Volcanoes 4
It took 11 innings in the fourth game of the season for Boise to win its first game and Salem-Keizer to lose its first.
The Hawks scored the first run of the game, in the third inning, but in the Volcanoes third, a home run by Chuckie Jones with Michael Mergenthaler on base put the host club ahead by a run.
With the score 3-3 going into the seventh, a bases-empty homer by Dong-Yub Kim put Boise ahead, but the Volcanoes tied the score in that inning.
In the 11th, a single, a force out and two errors added two runs for Boise. Reliever Bryce Shafer retired the Volcanoes in order in that inning, earning a save. Reliever Rafael Diplan was the winning pitcher and reliever Franklin Noel the loser.
Tuesday: Volcanoes 4, Boise 1
The Volcanoes returned to the win column, leading all the way except when the Hawks tied the score in the top of the sixth inning.
Salem-Keizer started the scoring in the bottom of the first. Kentrell hill walked, reached second base on a ground out and third on a passed ball, and went home on a sacrifice fly by Chuckie Jones.
Boise’s one run came when a double by Wilson Contreras scored Marco Hernandez.
The Volcanoes responded with three runs in the bottom of the sixth. Matt Duffy and Jones singled, and a walk to Brennan Metzger loaded the bases. Andrew Cain grounded into a force out, with Duffy and Jones scoring. Cain went to second on an error and scored on another error.
Chris Johnson, who relieved starter Mario Rodriguez in the sixth, was the winning pitcher, and Tyler Mizenko earned a save. Felix Pena was the loser in relief.
The Volcanoes started a series at Yakima Wednesday and will return Monday to face Eugene.