The Hillsboro Hops were back in character Sunday. After a rare late-inning loss to the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes in the first game of a series the Volcanoes desperately need to win, the Hops were back in magical late-inning form on Sunday.
After falling behind 7-2 in the sixth on Salem-Keizer's fifth home run of the game, the Hops (26-11 second half, 50-25 overall) scored seven unanswered runs, capped by Geraldo Perdomo's tiebreaking two-run triple in the eighth inning, to defeat the Volcanoes 9-7 in front of 4,065 fans at Ron Tonkin Field Sunday.
Perdomo also homered and reached on a bunt single, driving in three runs with two runs scored as the Hops extended their franchise record win total and dealt a tough blow to the Volcanoes' playoff hopes.
The Volcanoes (16-21, 26-29) need to beat the Hops Monday and the Eugene Emeralds must lose their final two games in order for Hillsboro and Salem-Keizer to meet in the divsional playoff round, which begins Monday at the site of the second-place team.
The Volcanoes' jumped on Hops' starter Kenny Hernandez early as star catcher Joey Bart, the second overall pick in the 2018 draft by the San Francisco Giants, hit a solo home run to right center field in the first inning, his 13th of the season, fourth against the Hops and second off the Hillsboro southpaw.
The Hops tied the game 1-1 when Jake McCarthy hit a leadoff single and scored on Andy Yerzy's sacrifice fly to right. The run was unearned after Perdomo reached base on an error by second baseman Kyle McPherson earlier in the inning.
In the second, Wander Franco led off with a solo shot to right and Salem-Keizer was leading 2-1 when Bart came back to the plate with two outs and nobody on base in the third inning. Hernandez's first pitch to the former Georgia Tech catcher went behind his back. The next pitch drilled him in the back, leading to a long staredown that led to warnings being issued to both dugouts.
Salem-Keizer's revenge was swift as David Villar drilled his 13th home run of the season to put the visitors up 4-1. After a Franco leadoff double in the fourth, Aaron Bond went deep against Hernandez, also his 13th of the year and the fourth gopher-ball surrendered by Hillsboro's co-wins leader. That would be it for Hernandez as Ethan Larrison, who shares the Hillsboro lead in victories with six, pitched the rest of the fourth and the fifth inning.
Perdomo launched his third home run of the season, a towering shot to right in the bottom of the fifth, to make it 6-2. But the Volcanoes came back with yet another longball, as Bond greeted reliever Kai-Wei Lin with a home run to lead off the sixth.
Trailing 7-2 in the bottom of the sixth inning, Andy Yerzy drew a leadoff walk from reliever Keaton Winn. Joey Rose followed with a blooper to left field that turned into an RBI triple when it bounced over the head of Diego Rincones and got to the fence. Jorge Perez plated Rose with a grounder to the right side and the Hops were within 7-4 headed to the seventh.
After Lin tossed a 1-2-3 frame, the Hops ambushed Salem-Keizer's third pitcher of the game, southpaw Sydney Duprey, putting the first five batters on base in the bottom of the inning. David Garza led off with a grounder that hugged the third base line for a double. Jake McCarthy followed with a blooper to shallow left and hustled into second base ahead of the tag for an RBI double. Perdomo followed with a perfect drag bunt single down the third base line putting runners at the corners. After a wild pitch put runners at second and third, L.T. Tolbert followed with a drive into the right center gap for a two-RBI single, tying the game 7-7.
After Yerzy walked and Duprey departed, the Hops still had none out and two runners aboard. But Cooper Casad, an undrafted free agent signee out of the University of Pacific, came in to strike out Joey Rose, then got out of the jam when Perez bounced into an inning-ending double play.
Franco doubled off Lin to lead off the eighth, then scampered to third on a wild pitch. With the go-ahead run 90 feet away and none out, Lin fanned Bond. Manager Shawn Roof went to the pen for big Chester Pimentel. The 6-5 righthander has been close to untouchable since the All-Star break, converting on seven of seven save chances while not allowing a run in eight straight appearances since the break. With the Hops' infield in, Pimentel (3-0) got DH Ricardo Genoves to hit a bouncer to third. With Franco breaking on contact, Rose gunned him down at the plate for the second out in the inning, before Jett Manning flied out to right to end the threat.
In the ninth, Francis Martinez hit a gapper to left center for a base hit. Center fielder Bond made a leaping one-hop snag to keep it from going to the fence as Martinez steamed toward second. The 6-5, 250-pound DH beat the tag, but slid awkwardly, catching his spikes in the turf. After staying down for a brief bit, Martinez was able to walk off the field without a limp as Dan Swain came in to pinch-run. Swain raced to third on Will Gorman's fly out to Bond, but Swain was thrown out at the plate when Garza hit a grounder to the drawn-in first baseman Franco. Franco hesitated on his throw, then had to double-clutch as the pitcher Casad passed in front of him on the way to cover first base, but still nipped Swain at the wire.
With two down and a runner at first, it looked as if Casad (0-1) would escape yet another jam when Jake McCarthy hit a grounder to Manning at short. But the former Alabama shortstop lost the ball on the transfer from the glove to his throwing hand for an error and Perdomo would make the Volcanoes' pay for the extra out. The switch-hitting 18-year-old shortstop hit pulled another deep drive, taking right fielder Dalton Combs back to the fence. Combs had robbed Jorge Perez of a potential home run at the fence the night before, but could not get a glove on this one, as it bounced off the wall for a game-deciding three-bagger, Perdomo's second of the year.
Pimentel would nail down the win in the top of the ninth, but not without some drama. McPherson led off with his third hit of the game and Pimentel plunked Diego Rincones, putting the tying runs on with none out with the dangerous Bart due up. The highest-drafted player in the Northwest League since Hilsboro had Dansby Swanson in 2015, Bart would not be the hero on this night, grounding into a 6-4-3 double play. Pimentel still had to get past Villar, one of the league's top power-hitters, but got a fastball past him on a 2-2 count wrap up a playoff-type win.
McPherson and and Franco each had three of Salem-Keizer's 13 hits. Bart, Villar and Bond all came into the contest with a dozen homers. Two left with a baker's dozen as Bond took over the team lead with 14.
McCarthy scored three runs for the Hops, who wrap up the regular season with the first morning game in club history on Labor Day. First pitch is at 11:05 with the pregame show on NBC Sports Northwest Rip City Radio 620 AM and ripcityradio.com beginning at 10:35.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.