Turnabout was fair play at Ron Tonkin Field Wednesday afternoon.
One night after the Hops scored three runs in the ninth and walked off a win in the tenth, the Boise Hawks had the late inning mojo.
Luis Castro's leadoff home run in the ninth inning tied the score and the Hawks (19-14) plated two more runs in the tenth to beat the Hops 4-2. A Hillsboro victory would have clinched the first-half Northwest League South Division championship and a playoff berth. Instead, the Hops' magic number is now two with five games to play.
Those five games will be at Vancouver, starting Thursday night at 7:05 p.m. Hillsboro (22-11) swept the defending NWL champion Canadians in BC last year, a rare feat in the NWL. With the Hops magic number now at two, a win Thursday coupled with a Boise loss to Everett will clinch the first half division title for Hillsboro.
Hillsboro had taken a 2-1 lead in the eighth inning when Jose Caballero singled with two outs and sprinted to second base when the ball was bobbled in left field by Boise's Aubrey McCarty. Andy Yerzy delivered the go-ahead run with a base hit to right field, his second hit of the game and second straight night with a critical two-out RBI single in the late innings.
But McCarty would avenge his mistake. After Castro's home run to left center off Hillsboro reliever West Tunnell tied the game in the ninth, McCarty greeted Trevor McKenna in the tenth with a double to the left field corner, scoring Daniel Jipping, who started the inning at second base under minor league baseball's new extra-inning rules. Hidekal Gonzalez followed with another RBI double and was gunned down trying to stretch to a triple.
While the two-run lead held up for Boise as former UConn closer P.J. Poulin pitched a scoreless bottom half of the inning, the failure to plate more runs could come back to haunt the Hawks. They left the bases loaded in the tenth, giving HIllsboro a potential tiebreaker edge in head-to-head run differential should the pennant race come down to that.
McKenna (1-1) was charged with the loss, allowing four hits, including three doubles in the final inning. The undrafted free agent out of Savannah St. had not allowed an earned run in eight previous professional appearances.
Peyton Gray (3-0) pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to get the win for Boise and Poulin, despite a hit batter and walk in the tenth, notched his third save in three tries, assisted by an ill-advised attempted steal of third base by Hillsboro's Jorge Perez, who was gunned down by Gonzalez.
Caballero and Yerzy each had two of Hillsboro's eight hits, Caballero extending his streak of reaching base to 23 games. Ryan Dobson extended his hitting streak to 11 games with an infield hit in the first inning, reaching base three times with a run batted in. Former Oregon Duck Matt Mercer started on the mound and pitched two scoreless innings, allowing one hit with two strikeouts and a walk.
Boise center fielder Matt Hearn, the NWL's leading hitter at .409 entering the contest, extended his hit streak to 15 games with a base hit in the tenth. He also reached base twice on walks and scored a run. Castro went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI's one night after his 12-game hit streak was snapped.
Tune in to NBC Sports Northwest Rip City Radio 620 Thursday night at 7 p.m. for live coverage of the series opener at Vancouver. Friday's afternoon contest will air live on 103.7FM The Legend at 1:00 p.m.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.