Hillsboro honored Canada Day on Sunday by serenading their 19-year old, Toronto-born catcher Andy Yerzy with his country's national anthem during his plate appearances. On Monday, they celebrated the man himself with a cloud of baby powder and a mob scene at second base.
For the second time in three days, the Hops celebrated a walk-off win in the ninth and this time it was the 2016 second-round draft pick that delivered the decisive blow. Yerzy's ground single past shortstop with one out in the ninth inning scored Keshawn Lynch and Jorge Perez with the winning runs in a 7-6 Hops victory over the Spokane Indians.
It was Hillsboro's sixth straight win, one shy of their longest streak of 2017 and two shy of the team record of eight straight wins set twice in the 2014 championship season. With the victory and Salem-Keizer's 5-0 loss at Vancouver earlier Monday, Hillsboro is now alone in first place in the Northwest League South Division standings at 12-6. Spokane slipped to 6-12 with the loss.
The Hops grabbed a 3-0 lead with back-to-back home runs in the fourth inning by Francis Martinez, a two-run shot, and Ryan Tufts. Spokane answered with a four-run fifth inning, taking advantage of three bases on balls and a botched double play with an RBI double by Curtis Terry and an RBI single by Starling Joseph.
The Hops' pitching staff was uncharacteristically wild, issuing eight free passes, half of them from Franklyn Soriano, whose first appearance out of the bullpen was limited to 2 2/3 innings after giving up the four-run fourth. But once again Hillsboro came up clutch in the late innings.
Trailing 6-4 in the ninth, Tufts was hit by a pitch on the first pitch of the inning. Keshawn Lynch grounded an 0-1 pitch past the diving shortstop Cristian Inoa for a base hit. Spokane reliever Werner Leal struck out Tra Holmes before giving way to Reggie Meyer, a 35th-round draft pick out of the University Minnesota, who was the losing pitcher for the Gophers against Oregon State in the Super Regionals.
Jorge Perez, who delivered a walk-off single Saturday night in the ninth, greeted Meyer by sending his first pitch inches away from a home run, off the top of the left field wall for an opposite field RBI double, plating the pinch-running Dan Swain. With Perez on second and Lynch at third base, the Indians walked Jose Caballero intentionally to load the bases to face Yerzy, who was 0-for-11 with six strikeouts in the series at that point. Yerzy pushed a hard ground ball just to the right of Inoa into left, plating the winning runs.
Perez continued a hot streak at the plate that has seen him rise from the bottom to the second spot in the batting order. The second-year Hop outfielder added an RBI single in the seventh inning and also reached on a walk, going 2-for-4 on the night. Perez is now batting .600 with eight runs batted in with runners in scoring position this year. The Hops leading hitter, Perez is just a couple of plate appearances away from qualifying for the league batting race, where his .366 would place him below only Salem-Keizer's Diego Rincones (.379).
Wesley Rodriguez surrendered his first run of the season in two innings of relief, but picked up the win, improving to 2-0 on the season. Meyer was charged with the loss in his first professional decision.
Two Hops pitchers made their NWL debuts. Oregon's Matt Mercer, a fifth-round selection, pitched a scoreless first inning with two strikeouts. Ryan Miller, a sixth-round pick out of Clemson, pitched a scoreless second. Soriano, who was coming off a strong start and his first win of the season at Boise, allowed three hits and four earned runs with two strikeouts and four walks.
The Hops go for their third ever five-game series sweep Tuesday night at 7:05 p.m. with fireworks to follow. The game will air at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Northwest Rip City Radio 620 AM with Matt Richert and Travis Demers on the call.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.