After trailing 4-0 after two innings of play, the Ems scratch and claw their way to a 7-5 victory in Hillsboro, scoring 4 runs in the 7th inning and stunning a crowd of 3,622 at Ron Tonkin Field.
Bailey Clark toed the rubber for the Emeralds, and the tall right hander out of Duke University struggled with his command, most notably in the 2nd inning as the Hops' offense clicked early.
Clark surrendered walks to Drew Ellis, Daulton Varsho, and Tra Holmes to kick off the frame, and Billy Endris drove a shot to deep right-center field for a sacrifice fly and an RBI, scoring Ellis. Yan Sanchez then walloped a liner through the 3-4 hole for another run, and Bryan Araiza blooped a double down the left field line to cap off a 3-run 2nd inning for the Hops, giving them an early 4-0 lead.
Immediately, the Emeralds (15-12) began chipping away at the deficit. In the 3rd inning, Zach Davis and Aramis Ademan reached second and third with 2 outs, setting up a critical RBI situation for Gustavo Polanco. The Ems' cleanup hitter jumped all over a first pitch fastball, clobbering it through the 5-6 hole and into left field, scoring both Davis and Ademan and cutting the deficit to 4-2.
After the teams traded runs in the 4th inning, Hops starter Riley Smith continued to cruise through the Emeralds' lineup heading into the 7th. Needing a spark still down 5-3, Kwang Min Kwon hit a high chopper down the right field line which rolled all the way into the corner, giving Kwon his first triple of the season, leading off the 7th. Rafael Narea quickly hit a slow roller on the ground to shortstop Yan Sanchez, scoring Kwon and getting the Ems within 1 run. The boys from the Emerald Valley did not stop there.
Zach Davis then stepped up to the plate and deposited a 3-1 pitch off Hillsboro reliever Cal Becker (0-1) into the right field corner, ending up on 3rd with another triple in the inning. Aramis Ademan once again came through, shooting a 1-0 fastball to right, scoring Davis and tying up the game at 5 apiece. After Miguel Amaya struck out, Gustavo Polanco legged out an infield single before Jared Young worked a base on balls to set up the bases loaded, 2 out, for Brandon Hughes.
Hughes eventually won a battle of attrition with Becker, blooping the 8th pitch of the at bat into shallow left, scoring Ademan and Polanco and unbelievably giving the Ems a 7-5 lead that they would not relinquish.
The Emeralds' bullpen pitched 5.1 innings of scoreless relief, as Jhon Romero (1-0), Jake Steffens, and Brian Glowicki shut the door on the Hillsboro Hops (14-13) to take Game 1 of this 3 game series in Hillsboro.
Game 2 at Ron Tonkin Field is on Thursday, July 13th, at 7:05pm. Patrick Zajac has the call on 95.3 The Score as Enrique De Los Rios starts for the Emeralds against Mitchell Aker for the Hops.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.