All he did was hold Salem’s vaunted offense to a leadoff infield single and a walk over seven spectacular innings of work. After walking Brett Pill in the second inning and plunking Adam Witter, Dunn and reliever Jon Kirby combined to retire 22 straight Volcanoes en route to an 8-0 one-hit masterpiece, the club’s third win over the Volcanoes in their last four meetings.
“I was a little nervous. It was my last start and I wanted to finish strong. Once I got out there though, the nervousness left a little bit and I threw a couple of strikes and just went on from there,” a relieved Dunn said afterwards (Brooks Dunn talks about his combined one-hitter: Listen to Audio).
The left-hander out of Mississippi State got all the support he would need and then some on a very wild play in the third inning.
After Casey Smith had singled and Abraham Aguilar had doubled to put two runners in scoring position, newcomer Jodam Rivera stepped to the dish.
Down 0-2, Rivera slipped a single just inside the left-field line to drive home Smith and Aguilar. Left-fielder Bobby Felmy threw home on the play to try and nip Aguilar. Seeing that the throw was heading home, Rivera rounded first and headed to second.
Catcher Adam Witter received Felmy’s throw much too late to get Aguilar, but instead of holding the ball and keeping Rivera at second, Witter fired wildly into center-field, allowing Rivera to make the dash for the third. Michael McBryde picked the ball up in center and simultaneously showed off both his major league arm and his minor league aim. His throw sailed well over third and into the visiting dugout. This made the play dead and allowed Rivera to score uncontested. What had started out as a garden-variety two-run single finished as a bizarre error-laden three-run inside-the-park home run.
The Ems would add two more in the fourth when Smith, woebegone at the plate most of the season, turned on a pitch and sent a line drive over the left-field wall for a two-run jack. The blast, Smith’s first of the season, added an exclamation point to an already sweet victory.
“It feels good to finally get one this year,” Smith acknowledged. “The only thing I was worried about was whether it was going to stay fair or not. I felt like I got enough of it so it felt pretty good.”
Luke Cannon threw in a titanic tater of his own in the eighth, this one sailing high over the scoreboard in left-center field and out of Civic Stadium’s friendly confines. That shot made the score 7-0 and brought the 3,506 fans in attendance to their feet.
Kirby threw a perfect seventh and eighth to slam the door on Salem-Keizer and seal the victory for Dunn.
With the win, Eugene moves to 43-31 going into the season’s final two games. On Tuesday, Eugene will throw surging right-hander Aaron Breit at the Volcanoes. Through his first pro season Breit holds a 2-2 record and a 2.98 ERA, good for eighth in the Northwest League. Game time is 7:05 p.m.