EUGENE, ORE. --- A quartet of Hillsboro pitchers held rival Eugene to just four hits en route to a 5-1 win for the Hops in the opener of a three-game series on Saturday night at P.K. Park. Hillsboro, at 16-7, has won 12 of their last 14 games, and has the best record in the Northwest League. Eugene, now 8-15, has lost 12 of 14.
Andy Yerzy, who was 4-for-4 on Friday against Salem-Keizer, had three more hits in this one --- finishing a triple shy of the cycle --- to highlight the Hops' 11-hit attack. It is the tenth time this year a Hop has had at least three hits in one game, and Yerzy has done it five of those ten times. Over the last two games, he is 7-for-9, raising his average from .286 to .342.
Hops starting pitcher Matt Mercer --- a former Oregon Duck, making his third professional outing on the P.K. Park mound he called home for three seasons --- worked a perfect first inning. Ryan Miller took over as planned for the second (both Mercer and Miller are on strict innings limits), and Eugene loaded the bases with one out on three singles. But Miller struck out Emeralds catcher Brennon Kaleiwahea for the second out. Eugene left-fielder Kwang-Min Kwon then smoked a ball headed down the right field line… until it was snared by Hops first baseman Francis Martinez, who jumped to make the catch.
Hillsboro broke the scoreless game in the top of the third as Ryan Dobson walked, stole second --- one of six stolen bases for the Hops in the game --- and eventually scored on a wild pitch. Yerzy hit an opposite-field solo home run in the sixth, and Dan Swain followed with an RBI single later in the inning to make it 3-0 Hops.
Left-hander Franklyn Soriano replaced Miller to start the third inning, and he worked five frames, allowing just one base runner --- a solo home run by Cubs' 2018 first-round draft choice Nico Hoerner. It was the first professional dinger for the former Stanford shortstop.
The Hops added a run in the eighth on a double by Yerzy, a ground out and another wild pitch; and tacked on another in the ninth on a single by Swain, a walk drawn by Zach Hoffpauir, and a run-scoring single by Dobson.
Yeison Santana worked the final two innings to earn his first save, with help from a diving catch in center by Tra Holmes to end the eighth. Soriano (2-1) was the winner, while Emeralds starter Brailyn Marquez (1-2) took the loss.
Boise beat Salem-Keizer, and Hillsboro now leads both Boise and Salem-Keizer by three games with 15 games remaining in the first-half race.
The middle game of the three-game series is Sunday at 5:05. The radio pregame show begins at 4:35 on Rip City Radio 620 AM and www.RipCityRadio.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.