Saturday, July 15, 2017

Boise Hawks 3 at Salem-Keizer Volcanoes 2 (Northwest League) - July 14, 2017


Much like last night's visit to Hillsboro, tonight saw me revisiting a franchise I had seen in Washington in 1992, but in a new city in Oregon. In this case, it was the Bellingham Giants (who were the Mariners and had Craig Griffey when I visited) that moved 300 miles south down I-5 to Keizer to become the Volcanoes. As Keizer is a small town that few outside of Oregon have heard of, the team added nearby Salem (Oregon's capital) to their name, becoming the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes.



The ballpark is simply named Volcanoes Stadium and is located right next to I-5, making it very convenient to get to. Parking in the lot is $5, but just next to the stadium is Keizer Station, a collection of shops and restaurants, where you can park for free and then walk over. I stopped at Gustav's Bargarten, a German-themed restaurant, and left my car there; as I walked to the stadium I noticed several other fans doing the same thing.



The team moved here in 1997, so this is their 20th anniversary. They have won 5 league titles in those 20 seasons, though none since 2009.



I had stopped by earlier in the day and walked around the stadium when it was empty, hence there are no fans in some of these photos. Just inside the main entrance are statues of kids pitching, batting, and catching.



Tickets here can be expensive, with the lower level box seats going for $20, the most I have seen at this level. The next price level is $14 for upper box, the first few rows in the section above the walkway, while $12 gets you a reserved bench seat above that. General admission is $10 and I was about to buy one of those when I overheard someone say "extra". Looking around, I spotted a lady with three tickets. As I approached her, she tried to give them to a family, but fortunately for me, they already had tickets. I politely mentioned that I could use one, and without a word, she handed me a ticket. Boom, I was in the ballpark for free.



The GA sections include berms in both corners as well as some benches well down the first base line (above). This area is actually on the other side of the batting cage, which is in use before the game.



The view from down here is not that good, especially with the sun shining in your face for much of the game.



The third base berm seems a better bet if you are looking for foul balls.



There are some special table seats behind the plate that would be perfect for a group of 4 who have a bit of extra cash. These are known as the Diamond Club seats and cost $30 each.



The view from here is quite nice too.



The upper rows of the reserved sections were mostly empty so that is where I sat for the most part.



I preferred the third base side though, as I could watch the traffic on I-5 zooming by.



From here, I could also look down and see the Lava Lodge Sports Bar, just to the left of the picture below.



As the sun set behind third base, the shadow of my seating section crept onto the field of play. That's me playing the moron, waving on the left side. About as close as I'll get to being on a professional baseball diamond during a game.



The variety of concessions here are excellent and reasonably priced. Having saved on both parking and admission, I had a Three Creeks craft beer for $6 and a hamburger for $4. The $8 Volcano Burger, a half-pound steak burger with bacon, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and chipotle mayo would have been my choice had I not stopped at Gustav's before. The redundantly named Asian Wok (woks are Chinese, which is part of Asia) serves a chicken rice bowl for $8, but my favourite concession is the Healthy Hut (on the right below), which offers a wrap and salads, along with beer. Therefore, beer is healthy!



There are two scoreboards: a larger video board in left field that shows the linescore and replays, and a smaller one in right field that includes just the score and the count. It was quite an idyllic setting as the evening progressed, except for one thing. The P.A. announcer continued to urge the crowd to "Make Some Noise" like this was an NBA game. How about a new promo: "Sit Back and Enjoy the Game Without Mindlessly Screaming Because Someone Told You To"? I'm sorry, I'm just a grumpy old man.



Overall, I had a great time at Volcanoes Stadium. A free ticket always helps, and I enjoyed the space available and variety of concessions. The ballpark is entering its third decade and probably needs an overhaul in the next few years, particularly given the prices that are being charged, but it is still worth a visit for any sports traveller.



The Game



Boise (Colorado) was in town to take on the Volcanoes, who are still the Giants affiliate. Rico Garcia (30th round in 2016, wearing that horrid Diamondbacks-inspired uniform above) started for the visitors, while Jose Marte (below) took the hill for Salem-Keizer. The game was scoreless through 5 and already the Volcanoes had gone to the bullpen, which gave up the first run on a bases loaded walk in the 6th.



In the bottom half, Boise made a couple of throwing errors on pickoffs and SK added a couple of singles to score two runs. But the Hawks tied it in the 7th on a solo homer by Daniel Jipping (22nd, 2017). In the ninth, with Peter Lannoo (28th, 2017) on for the Volcanoes, Bret Boswell (8th, 2017) led off with a no-doubter to give the Hawks the 3-2 lead. SK had runners on first and second with two out in the bottom half, and with the P.A. announcer exhorting the crowd to bring some energy, Rob Calabrese (10th, 2017) struck out to end the game, probably feeling the pressure from all those screaming fans.



This one took 3:19, helped by 9 walks from the Volcanoes pitching staff. Another slow-paced game with a PPM of 1.52, but with the 6:35 start time, I was able to get out of the ballpark before it got too cold.

Notes

During the game, the announcer kept referring to RoofMan. I had no idea what that was until around the 5th inning, when RoofMan appeared atop the roof of the suites and tossed T-shirts and other goodies to the adoring crowd.



The beer batter for Boise was #9 hitter J.B. Moss (7th, 2016, by Atlanta), who I saw last year when he was with the Danville Braves, and earlier this year with the Florida Fire Frogs. Moss was released by the Braves last month and picked up by Colorado. As the beer batter, if Moss struck out, beer would be $3 for 15 minutes. Sadly, he singled, grounded out, and then was hit by a pitch. Pitchers who hit the beer batter should be demoted.

Next Up

There are four games left on the trip: Eugene today, a revisit of Boise tomorrow, then Idaho Falls on Monday, before finishing with Spokane on Tuesday. Recaps to be posted here daily, so keep checking back.

Best,

Sean

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