Befitting a team that has Devils in its nickname, the Hillsboro Hops played their first game following the All-Star break in conditions only Beelzebub himself would appreciate.
Five Hops pitchers combined on a four-hit shutout and Joey Rose hit his sixth home run of the year as Hillsboro (8-6 second half, 32-20 overall) defeated the Tri-City Dust Devils 3-0 Thursday night at Gesa Stadium in Pasco.
With a game-time temperature of 107 degrees and the hills beyond the outfield wall shrouded in smoke from area wildfires, the game was played under very uncomfortable conditions, but Hillsboro played error-free ball, allowing only two walks and one hit batter, while only two of Tri-City's four hits left the infield.
Geraldo Perdomo singled with one out in the first inning, stole second, then swiped third with two outs, usually a no-no. The aggressive move paid off when Perdomo trotted home on a wild pitch by Tri-City starting pitcher Matt Keating to give Hillsboro a 1-0 lead.
Perdomo hit a deep fly to right just foul that travelled over 400 feet before striking out in the third inning. Two outs later, Rose hit a deep blast to left that was well fair and well gone to put Hillsboro up 2-0.
Matt Mercer bounced back from a rocky start against Vancouver to throw three strong innings, striking out four with no walks and two hits allowed. Ryan Miller retired the side in the fourth and Trevor McKenna cruised through 1 2/3 innings before running into some trouble in the sixth. After an infield hit by Dwanya Williams-Sutton, McKenna walked cleanup hitter Justin Paulsen.
On came Wesley Rodriguez out of the bullpen, who proceeded to plunk catcher Blake Hunt on the second pitch he threw. With the bases loaded and two outs and NWL veteran outfielder Tre Carter at the plate, Rodriguez blew up his bat with an 0-1 fastball as first baseman Francis Martinez gloved the grounder and raced to first to end the threat as a sharp chunk of lumber came to rest about six feet away.
Tri-City (5-9, 23-29) brought the tying run to the plate in the eighth, but Chester Pimentel came out of the pen and got Williams-Sutton to ground into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play before retiring the side in the ninth for his first pro save. The Hops had added an insurance run in the top of the inning on a bases-loaded, two out wild pitch that scored Francis Martinez, who had walked earlier in the inning.
Perdomo went 2-for-4 with a run scored and Rose reached base on a walk in addition to his big fly. Rodriguez (4-1) got credit for the win, allowing no hits, one walk and one hit batter over 1 1/3 innings with one strikeout. Keating (3-5) put up nearly identical numbers to his earlier start in Hillsboro: five innings pitched, five hits, two earned runs with five strikeouts and two bases on balls.
Game two of the series airs at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Northwest Rip City Radio 620AM with first pitch scheduled for 7:15 p.m. Game time temperature is once again expected to be in triple-digits.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.