LIVE BLOG: Dust Devils, Game 36 vs. Salem-Keizer Volcanoes

Jack Millikin, Herald staff writerJuly 21, 2012 

Tri-City riding a modest two-game win streak. They Dust Devils will count on RHP Shane Broyles to extend it to three games. Broyles, who has won his last three starts, will go up against Salem-Keizer RHP Joe Biagini, who is 0-3 on the year.

A nice tribute out in left-center field, as the team decided to fly the American flag at half-mast after the recent shooting tragedy in Aurora, Colo. They'll keep it at half mast through the middle of next week, according to a team source.

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Broyles strikes out the side in the first inning on 14 pitches, the last of which was a 91 mph heater he powered past Chuckie Jones. Broyles was the NWL pitcher of the week last week and looks every bit the part so far.

No score after one inning.

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The folks in section K are getting free bread sticks thanks to Broyles, who recorded his fifth strikeout in the top of the third inning. That makes eight up and eight down to start the game.

But the Volcanoes No. 9 hitter, Stephen Branca, laid down a nice drag bunt down the third-base line that hugs the grass along the chalk. Dust Devils third baseman Alec Mehrten, knowing he might not have a play at first, let the ball roll to see if it would go foul. It almost did, but it hit the third base bag just before it crossed over, and Branca reached with an infield single.

Speaking of Branca, the Dust Devils' esteemed official scorer Scott Tylinski just came by to ask me how ironic it was that a player named Branca is playing in the San Francisco Giants' organization.

It was Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Ralph Branca who threw the pitch that Bobby Thompson turned into the "Shot Heard Round the World" back in 1951 and gave the New York Giants the National League pennant.

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Broyles has eight strikeouts through five innings. He just struck out the side for the second time and has allowed just four hits through five scoreless.

His counterpart for the Volcanoes, Biagini, is having an equally impressive outing. Biagini has his off-speed stuff working and has only allowed one hit — a first-inning single by Tom Murphy — through the first four.

Still no score after five full.

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Broyles leaves the game after six innings. He allowed no runs on four hits with just one walk and nine strikeouts.

But Salem-Keizer strikes against Dust Devils reliever Ryan Arrowood, who gave up a leadoff triple to Mike Mergenthaler on a long flyball to deep right center. It looked playable, but center fielder Kyle Von Tungeln ran an awfully long way to get to it and then watched it bounce off his glove.

Tri-City right fielder Derek Jones was definitely closer to the ball, but it looked like he either got called off by Von Tungeln or didn't see it.

Arrowood almost fought through it, striking out Cain for the first out and then — after a walk to Stephen Yarrow — he just missed a strike three call against Eberle, who then bounced an RBI single on a 3-2 pitch into right field for a 1-0 lead.

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But Tri-City comes back against S-K reliever Lorenzo Mendoza in the bottom of the eighth. Zach Osborne, the Dust Devils' No. 8 hitter, hit a one-out double down the line in left and took third on an infield single by Roja.

Von Tungeln, who misplayed the flyball that led to the Volcanoes run in the top of the inning, responded with an RBI single between short and third, tying the score at 1. That was the end for Mendoza, who was replaced by Keith Bilodeau.

In a high-pressure situation, Bilodeau came though, striking out Rosell Herrera and Murphy to end the inning.

Score tied up at 1 after eight.

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Unbelievable finish to this game.

The Volcanoes scored three runs — capped by Branca's two-run single — in the top of the ninth inning to take a 4-1 lead.

The Dust Devils looked as good as buried. But they didn't give up.

Miguel De Leon struck out against reliever Keith Bilodeau for the first out, but Derek Jones starts things off with a walk off Bilodeau. Francisco Sosa then reached on an error by shortstop Ryan Duffy, and Mehrten singled over Branca at second to drive in Jones and cut the lead to 4-2.

Osborne flied out to second, but Roja hit a soft liner into left field to drive in Sosa and cut it to 4-3.

That ended Bilodeau's day. Stephen Johnson relieved him.

But Johnson couldn't find the strike zone, throwing 12 consecutive balls that included a walk to Von Tungeln that loaded the bases and a game-tying walk to Herrera.

Murphy came up with a chance to win the game and took two straight balls, including one that nearly hit him had he not pulled himself away from it. I thought if he held his position, the ball would have hit him and the game is over 5-4.

I think his instincts just took over. Who goes in there looking to get hit by a 90-mph fastball?

But Johnson, to his credit, battled back against Murphy and struck him out to end the inning.

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Tri-City won it in the bottom of the 10th.

With two outs, Sosa hits a high flyball into short center field that finds a hole for a double. That brought up the man of the day.

Mehrten, a right-hander, laced a 1-0 fastball on the outside part of the plate into right field. Despite the face that right-fielder Andrew Cain was playing in, Dust Devils manager Fred Ocasio didn't hesitate to wave Sosa home. Cain's throw came in low and short-hopped the catcher as Sosa slid in under the tag.

Dust Devils win it 5-4 in 10 innings.

This was one of the best comebacks I've ever seen by Tri-City. Glad to be here to see it.

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