After a record nine-win road trip, the Hillsboro Hops finally returned home to a smoke-shrouded Ron Tonkin Field Monday night and continued to do what they have been doing since the All-Star break: win close games.
Keshawn Lynch's RBI double in the fifth inning broke a 1-1 tie and that lead proved to be enough for the Hops as their bullpen nailed down another clutch save in a 2-1 victory over the Eugene Emeralds.
With wildfire smoke so thick it looked like mist falling in the field lights, the Hops (17-9 second half, 41-22 overall) were playing on their home field for the first time in more than two weeks following an extended road trip that netted nine wins in 11 games. Monday's one-run win was just the latest in a streak of close games: Hillsboro's last 14 games and 27 of the last 28 have been decided by three runs or less. With Monday's win, the Hops are now a remarkable 17-6 in one-run games in 2018.
Brailyn Marquez (1-4), a highly regarded Cubs prospect, pitched into the seventh inning in his third start against the Hops this year. Hillsboro collected eight hits against the tough 19-year-old lefty, but lost three runners on the bases caught stealing and another two at the plate. After Erick Gonzalez's solo home run in the top of the third inning off Hops' starter Jackson Goddard, Hillsboro answered with four hits in the bottom of the frame, but could only plate one run when Keshawn Lynch scampered home on a Marquez wild pitch.
In the fifth, Lynch doubled into the left field corner as Will Gorman steamed home from first with the tiebreaking run.
After Goddard departed following four strong innings, Harrison Francis (2-0) pitched 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. The 19-year-old righthander from Tallahassee retired 10 of 11 before back-to-back base hits by Gonzalez and Fernando Kelli in the eighth. With one out, lefty Trevor McKenna came out of the bullpen to retire D.J. Artis on a grounder to third, then fanned Grant Fennell, stranding the tying and go-ahead runs at second and third.
McKenna worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his second save of the year. Hillsboro improved to 6-4 against Eugene (12-13, 26-37) this season.
Jorge Perez continued a hot streak at the plate with two hits in three at bats. Gorman and Geraldo Perdomo also had two hits for the Hops.
Game two of the series is at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday night with pregame coverage starting 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.