The Hillsboro Hops will head into their home opener on a two-game losing streak, but winners of their opening series.
Ryan Tufts' first career home run gave Hillsboro an early 3-1 lead, but the Everett AquaSox had the last strike in a back-and-forth game, a 2-run home run by the Seattle Mariners' second-round draft pick Josh Stowers in the fourth inning of his pro debut. The Everett bullpen retired 15 straight Hops' batters to close out a 7-5 win at Everett Memorial Stadium in the final game of the five-game road set.
Hops pitcher Jayson McKinley got the start after throwing an inning of relief in Saturday's second game of the series. McKinley surrendered two home runs and six earned runs over four innings to absorb the loss.
Everett's bullpen was stout for the second straight night. Jamal Wade, Daveison Arias and Joey Gerber combined for five perfect innings and nine strikeouts to finish the game.
In an odd scoring twist, the only one of five Everett pitchers to surrender a baserunner was awarded the victory. Ivan Fortunato surrendered Tufts' homer in the second, then saw Jose Caballero go deep in the third for his first Hops' home run. Hillsboro scored five earned runs on five hits in three innings against Fortunato, who entered the game to begin the second inning in a piggyback appearance following one scoreless inning from starter Michael Plassmeyer. Plassmeyer, a fourth-round pick out of Missouri who threw over 90 innings this season will be on limited innings in his first pro season. While Fortunato was technically a reliever in this game, in spirit it is a shared start. Discounting his three innings on the hill, the Everett bullpen closed the series with nine straight scoreless innings and 19 consecutive outs.
Jorge Perez scored on a Fortunato wild pitch in the top of the fourth inning to give Hillsboro a 5-4 lead, but Stowers, a former teammate of 2017 Hillsboro third baseman Drew Ellis at Louisville, put the Frogs back in front with his home run off McKinley in the bottom of the inning.
Gerber earned the save, striking out two of the three batters he faced in the ninth.
Perez had two hits for the Hops and Andy Yerzy extended an extra-base hit streak to four straight games to start the season with a double in the second inning, later scoring on Tufts' home run. Connor Kopach went 3-for-3 with a double, two runs and two RBI's for the AquaSox.
The Hops won the series by taking the first three games and have homered in all five games so far this season.
Hillsboro opens its first homestand of the season Wednesday night at Ron Tonkin Field with the first of three games against the Eugene Emeralds, who took three of five from Vancouver in a rematch of the 2017 NWL Championship Series. Game time is at 7:05 p.m. and the radio broadcast on The Legend 103.7 FM will begin with the pregame show at 6:35 p.m.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.