Thought lost for the season after the opening game of the year, it's hard to imagine the Hillsboro Hops being where they are right now, which is way out in front of the pack in the Northwest League, without the services of Will Gorman.
Gorman drove in four runs and was a double short of the cycle and the Hops bullpen sealed the deal on another close game as Hillsboro (18-8 second half, 42-22 overall) defeated Eugene 6-4 Tuesday night in front of 3,642 at Ron Tonkin Field.
Gorman drove in two runs with a two-out triple in the first inning, then clobbered his fifth home run of the year, a two-run shot to right in the third, putting the Hops up 4-1. After grounding into a fielder's choice in the fifth inning, Gorman singled up the middle in the seventh. The Hops never trailed after his two-run bomb, so he never got a chance for the double in the ninth inning.
Only one Hops has hit for the cycle, Yan Sanchez in 2017, and only two players in the league have done it since 2010. Salem-Keizer's Kyle McPherson nearly hit for a cycle against the Hops on July 4, falling a single shy on a 3-for-4, 4 RBI night in a 15-1 Volcanoes win.
All five of Gorman's home runs and all 17 runs batted in have come since his return from a scary beanball on opening night in Everett. Hit in the mouth by a Max Roberts fastball, Gorman required emergency surgery for facial fractures and extensive dental work, but missed slightly less than a month before returning to play. Since his return to Hillsboro on July 29, Gorman leads the Hops in homers and has nearly twice as many runs batted in as any of his teammates.
Hillsboro starting pitcher Luis Frias departed with two on and two out in the fourth inning with the Hops leading 4-2. Justin Garcia (2-1) fanned Fernando Kelli to end the inning, then retired the side in the fifth with another strikeout. Travis Moths made his second Hillsboro appearance and threw primarily four-seam fastballs, retiring all six batters he faced with three more punchouts.
The Hops took a 6-2 lead on Geraldo Perdomo's second RBI hit of the night in the sixth inning.
Eugene (12-14, 26-38) scored two runs in the eighth on a two-run double by Jake Slaughter and plated a run in the ninth, but Josh Green retired D.J. Artis on a grounder to short for the final out, his 10th save of the season.
The Hops now lead the NWL South Division standings by six games with 12 left to play in the regular season. The six-game division lead is the largest in team history.
Andy Yerzy went 2-for-3 with a double and two runs scored for Hillsboro, which closes out the three-game series Wednesday night at 7:05 p.m., looking for win number six in a row. Pregame coverage starts at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Northwest Rip City Radio 620 AM.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.