A Long, Long, Day…

If it weren’t bad enough that the Hawks dropped back-to-back walk-off games to close out the Yakima series, today was even worse – a three-hour bus delay on top of Satus Pass in Central Washington, as the fuel injectors on the bus decided to not play nice.

The team left Yakima around 7:30 in the morning and proceded to the ball park to pick up the laundry on a crystal clear day – with a lot of the staff excited about the drive through the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountains.  However, once we ascended the 3,100 foot pass, something in the back of the bus decided to go out of whack – with white and black steam/smoke pouring out of the back and the team had to quickly evacuate the bus…luckily at the Pine Springs Resort – which, unfortunately, was closed.

Our trusty bus driver Hal went to the back of the rig and noticed pools of antifreeze and oil under the bus, with oil caked up and down the back panel of the bus.  When he tried to start the bus to get enough air pressure to get the bay doors open to get gear out – more oil and antifreeze speweed.  After a two-hour wait, a bus from A&A Motorcoach out of Yakima arrived on the scene – with the Yakima Bears old bus driver in charge.  The biggest issue was that the temporary bus (our typical bus company was sending a new coach to Salem) was only a 47-passenger, six less seats – but more of a concern was the lack of space in the bay doors underneath to load the baseball gear.  In fact, the company brought a pick-up truck as well to put personal bags in that were delivered to our hotel.

The team made the most of the situation – and luckily, we were traveling during the day and not at night.  Though the “resort” was closed, there was plenty of trees and picnic tables for players to relax (after all of the gear was removed from the broken bus) – with guys finding a set of horseshoes to put together a makeshift game, others deciding to climb through the emergency exits atop the bus.  There were deer, eagles, and rabbits abound (with an infamous – already after 24 hours – YouTube video involving one of the rabbits and a player…).  I also took the time to walk around Brooks Memorial State Park, which was adjacent to where we were stranded.  It was a place I’d love to come back and camp.

After noon, we finally were on our way and made the trek down the slopes of the Columbia River Gorge – a breathtaking six-mile stretch, eventually reaching Salem at around 4 p.m. (for a 6:35 game)

A LOOK FROM YAKIMA: For the first time in recent memory, the Hawks were swept in a series in Yakima – including back-to-back walk-off wins by the host Bears…both in 10 innings.  There were some highlights from the games – as the Hawks scored eight runs in Monday night’s game (http://yotestats.i8.com/hawks/Highlights8-22-11.wma), and six runs in Tuesday night’s game (http://yotestats.i8.com/hawks/Highlights8-23-11.wma).  I also had the chance to take some video from the press box during one of the games so that you could get an idea of what the crowd/stadium/atmosphere of a game at County Stadium was like.

ON TO SALEM: I have never been shy about my feelings for Volcanoes Stadium – and I think one of the broadcasters last season in our “Best Of” features said it best, one would have more fun at a library than at a Salem-Keizer game.  The crowd was never into the game…no walk up songs…no music in between innings, it was just a dead atmosphere.  No pre-game meal was provided for the media, no water was available after the sixth inning – I’ll have to grab a couple bottles that we have in the clubhouse.

The team got to the ball park about 50 minutes prior to the first pitch – put on the Main Street Mile alternate jerseys, stretched – and played a heck of a game.  Ryan Cuneo drove in four with a double and homer, Rafael Lopez had a homer, and Zeke DeVoss singled home two (including Oliver Zapata, who scored from first on the play).  Yao-Lin Wang was outstanding, striking out eight in six innings to take over the league lead in K’s.

For the second-straight season, the Hawks have won five games against the Volcanoes, and with one win in the final four games of this series, can win a season-series from Salem-Keizer for the first time since 2002.

QUICK HITS: Paul Hoilman struck out four times in tonight’s game, giving him 93 K’s on the season – just 13 from tying the NWL record for a season (with nine games to play)…Wes Darvill and Willson Contreras each extended hit streaks to a season-high five games in the win, while Cuneo, this week’s Northwest League Player of the Week, continued his torrid pace, hitting his sixth homer and extending his hit streak to eight.

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