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9th Inning Collapse Leads To Another 1 Run Loss

4-run lead dissolves in final inning as Hops drop 4th 1-run game.
April 14, 2024

Everything was set for a soft landing in the final game of Hillsboro's first road trip of 2024. Taking their largest lead of the season into the bottom of the ninth, the Hops (3-6) watched Vancouver (5-4) mount a two-out, none-on rally as the Canadians brightest early-season stars shined one

Everything was set for a soft landing in the final game of Hillsboro's first road trip of 2024.

Taking their largest lead of the season into the bottom of the ninth, the Hops (3-6) watched Vancouver (5-4) mount a two-out, none-on rally as the Canadians brightest early-season stars shined one more time in a 8-7 shocker Sunday at Nat Bailey Stadium.

The Hops took advantage of wildness by former Oregon Duck reliever Josh Mollerus to plate five runs in the sixth inning without getting a hit out of the infield.

With a 7-3 lead in the last of the ninth, Hillsboro reliever Eli Saul retired the first two batters quickly, then everything unravelled. The Vancouver, BC native drilled Dylan Rock in the back with a pitch, but appeared to be in good shape when catcher Jommer Hernandez hit a routine grounder to second. But Manny Pena booted the ball and Saul uncorked another wild one, hitting the number nine hitter Jean Arnaez to load the bases. Leadoff batter Dasan Brown hit a line drive single to right field, plating Rock and pinch-runner Estiven Machado. Now the crowd was engaged and the screws tightened with the tying runs on base in a 7-5 ballgame.

Zane Russell (1-1) came out of the Hillsboro bullpen having not allowed an earned run in five Northwest League appearances since making his Hops debut at the end of 2023. Tasked with facing one of Vancouver's hottest hitters, Russell fooled Ryan McCarty on a check swing, but the soft liner off his bat was perfectly placed down the right field line and Brown raced all the way around from first on a two-run double to tie the score 7-7.

Jace Bohrofen walked, brining cleanup hitter Nick Goodwin to the plate. Goodwin, who had already homered twice in the series, hit a blooper to right field. Brett Johnson charged in and made a diving stab but the ball popped off his glove and McCarty steamed home with the winning run, setting off a wild celebration.

Brazilian right hander Rafael Ohashi (0-1) tossed a scoreless top of the ninth to earn the win for Vancouver. Each team used five pitchers in the contest.

McCarty and Goodwin were handfuls all week. The Divison III National Player Of The Year two years ago at Penn State Abingdon, McCarty hit his second three-run homer of the series in the third inning off Joe Elbis to give Vancouver a 3-2 lead. The ninth inning double was his sixth extra base hit of the week. With five runs batted in on Sunday, McCarty finished the week 8-for-19 with three doubles, a triple, two homers and ten runs batted in. Goodwin's game-winner was his only hit on Sunday, but the former Kansas State shortstop had a triple and two home runs, walked six times and drove in eight for the Canadians. The two infielders combined to drive in 18 of Vancouver's 26 runs this week.

Hillsboro got an early lead by capitalizing on a couple of McCarty misplays in the field to plate two first inning runs. Andrew Pintar reached on a two-base throwing error, then slid around the tag of Hernandez when McCarty tried to throw him out at the plate on a Tommy Troy grounder to third. A Christian Cerda RBI double gave Hillsboro a 2-0 lead after one.

Those were the only runs allowed by Vancouver starting pitcher pat Gallagher over 4 1/3 innings. Gallagher failed to record an out in his first start of the season at Spokane. Elbis completed five innings for the Hops, allowing four hits and three walks with three strike outs. In two starts, the 21-year-old Venezuelan righty has allowed a total of four runs on two home runs.

The lead held until McCarty's third-inning blast. Then in the sixth it was Vancouver's turn to melt down. Mollerus, who had yet to walk a batter in two previous appearances, issued back-to-back free passes to David Martin and Cerda. Scorching hot Gavin Conticello followed with a grounder to the right side that caromed off the glove of the diving first baseman Brennan Orf for an infield single, his third hit of the game and seventh consecutive time on base. With the bases juiced, Mollerus got Manny Pena on an infield fly, but Cole Roberts battled for a seven pitch walk to force in the tying run. Brett Johnson followed with another base on balls to bring home the go-ahead run.

Up 4-3 with the bases still loaded, Anders Tolhurst replaced Mollerus on the hill and got to a 3-2 count to Andrew Pintar. Pintar chased a breaking ball down and away but the ball bounced past Hernandez. With the runners in motion on the pitch, Conticello scored easily with Roberts right behind him. The catcher Hernandez got to the ball and threw wildly to first in an attempt to retire Pintar, allowing Johnson to race home with the fifth run of the inning, giving the Hops a 7-3 advantage. At no time in the previous eight games had the Hops led or trailed by four or more runs, but as it turned out, it was anything but a safe lead.

Conticello finished the game 3-for-4, one day after reaching base four times and recording his first two-home run game as a pro. The 20-year-old Floridian, already in his fourth year of professional baseball, leads the Hops in batting (.333), home runs (3) and RBI (6) entering week three of the season.

The Hops will dust themselves off before entertaining the Tri-City Dust Devils this week. The six-game series opens Tuesday night at Hillsboro Ballpark. All Hops games for the remainder of the season will be broadcast live on Rip City Radio 620 AM.