HILLSBORO — The Salem-Keizer Volcanoes averted a sweep, defeating the Hillsboro Hops 2-0 on Thursday before 2,509 fans at Ron Tonkin Field.
Starter Travis Perry's six shutout innings and first baseman Logan Wyatt's two runs led the Volcanoes (1-2 in the second half of the Single-A Northwest League season, 27-14 overall).
The Hops (2-1, 26-15) had a long night ahead of them. They had to quickly board a bus for a seven-hour ride to Boise, Idaho. Hillsboro will take on the Boise Hawks (1-2, 16-25) at Memorial Stadium at 6:15 p.m. Friday.
The trip will be a hard one, especially for players new to long bus rides.
Wyatt, who has played just seven games for Salem-Keizer, learned how grueling the drive is last week on his first full road trip and when the Volcanoes traveled to Boise and clinched the first-half NWL South Division title.
"We got there the next morning, I got some sleep at the hotel and we played that same day," Wyatt said. "That was an adjustment, but it was fun."
The Volcanoes, who will play host Friday to the Eugene Emeralds (2-1, 18-23), took the lead in the fourth inning on Thursday, then added a run in the sixth.
Hillsboro starter Luis Frias (2-3) allowed one run over five innings. The Hops used five pitchers to pitch the last four innings, with the second run charged to Conor Grammes. The Hops scattered 10 hits allowed. In 38 first-half games, the Volcanoes averaged 6.45 runs. In this three-game series, the Volcanoes scored seven total runs.
"These past two games, we struggled against their pitching and didn't get too many guys on base," Wyatt said. "They didn't give us too much to hit and kept us off balance."
Just one of the Hops' six hits was for extra bases, and they managed to get to third base only twice.
Perry struck out five Hops, allowing five hits without a walk.
Cooper Cassad relieved Perry and threw a scoreless seventh, but ran into trouble in the eighth.
A Ricky Martinez double and walks to Jesus Marriaga and Kristian Robinson provided a late-game scare.
But Cassad was able to strike out the struggling Andy Yerzy to escape the jam.
The Hops were unable to threaten in the ninth against reliever Israel Cruz, who retired them 1-2-3.
Despite having the league's leading offense, the Volcanoes have struggled on the mound, ranking seventh out of eight teams with a 4.53 team ERA.
Thursday's performance showed that the first-half division champions are on their way to becoming a more complete team.
The shutout "gives those guys confidence for the future, and it gives our team confidence," Wyatt said. "The guys on defense (have) the pitcher's back, and they've got our backs."
Wyatt, the Giants' second-round pick out of Louisville, scored the runs and went 2 for 3 with a double.
He broke the scoreless tie in the fourth when catcher Brandon Martorano knocked him in with an RBI single.
In the sixth, Wyatt scored on designated hitter Armani Smith's RBI single.
Possibly the most exciting moment of the game came in the top of the seventh, when Salem-Keizer's Franklin Labour was called out on a check-swing to end the inning.
Despite Labour's best effort to hold up, home plate umpire Nick McFarland ruled it a swing for strike three.
Labour and Volcanoes manager Mark Hallberg bypassed restraints to argue the call with McFarland. Although Labour found a way to remain in the game, Hallberg ultimately was ejected.
The Hops and Volcanoes will play again in Hillsboro on Aug. 2, the start of a three-game series leading up to the All-Star break. The All-Star Game will be Aug. 6 in Boise at 6:30 p.m. and most likely will have a few Hops and Volcanoes involved.
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