Salem, OR ---- Tonight, the Hillsboro Hops have plenty reason to feel good about themselves. In what may have been the biggest win for Hillsboro this season, the Hops (2-1) and Ross Gerdeman outdueled the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes for the first road series victory in franchise history.
In what was his best start of the year, Gerdeman (0-4) threw 7.2 shutout innings for the Hops and allowed seven hits and only one walk while striking out four. It looked as though Gerdeman was going to surrender at least one run in the first inning, but did a good job getting out of trouble as he got Salem-Keizer's Ryan Tuntland to strike out with runners on second and third.
The Hops had a good a chance as any they would see tonight when in the bottom of the first inning, Brian Billigen singled to right field and was followed by a Yogey Perez-Ramos double that moved Billigen to third. With runners on second and third, the Hops failed to even get the ball out of the infield as Zach Esquerra and Cesar Carrasco both struck out swinging, followed by a George Roberts groundout to second.
After the excitement of the first inning, the game would fall into a pace that would be consistent for the rest of the game. From the second inning and all the way until the seventh inning, not a single runner for either team would find their way into scoring position.
After a quiet Hops' half of the eighth, the Volcanoes were poised to draw first blood and take a late-game lead on the Hops. After a walk, single, two strikeouts and one hit batsman, Ross Gerdeman left the game with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth inning and gave way to Johnny Shuttlesworth (1-1). Shuttlesworth would come on to throw two pitches as he got Tyler Horan to roll over to George Roberts at first base.
As the game went into the top of the ninth, the Hops sent their 2-3-4 batters to the plate. Perez-Ramos started the inning off with a double to left field, and was almost thrown out at second base on a strong throw from Brian Ragira. With Yogey on second, Esquerra moved him over on a groundout to second base, which brought up Carrasco to the plate. On the second pitch he saw, the young 19 year old Dominican singled up the middle to give the Hops the lead 1-0.
After an inning-ending double play, the Hops went into the home half of the ninth with a one-run lead. Because of an unexpected trip to Arizona, Jimmie Sherfy was unable to come on for the save. Daniel Gibson would come on for the save, but it was not without drama. After allowing a leadoff base hit, Gibson struck out Sam Eberle before allowing a bunt single. After a Blake Miller fielders choice for the second out of the inning, Gibson struck out Volcanoes' catcher Geno Escalante to end the game.
The Hops return home for a five-game homestand against the Mariners' Class A affiliate, the Everett Aquasox, and it will be the lone day-game played on a weekday for the Hops as they are giving way to the Hillsboro Airshow later on tomorrow night.
The pregame show on Fox Sports Radio 620 and online at www.foxsportsradio620.com begins at 1:05 p.m. Rich Burk and Matt Richert will call the action.