The Hops may have a dominant lead in the Northwest League, but they haven't exactly been dominating games.
For the first time in nearly three weeks, there was no drama in the late innings of a Hillsboro Hops game as Hillsboro built a 5-0 lead early and was never threatened in a 10-1 win over the Eugene Emeralds Wednesday night at Ron Tonkin Field.
Ryan January came in as an injury replacement at catcher and went 3-for-3 with a double, triple, two RBI and two runs scored to lead an 11-hit effort as the Hops swept their second straight series, winning their tenth game out of the last 11.
The Hops (19-8, 43-22) maintain a six-game lead over the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes in the Northwest League South Division standings as Eugene (12-15 26-39) fell seven games back in the second half with 11 games left to play in the regular season
January entered the game in the top of the fourth inning after starting catcher Zach Jones took a jarring foul ball in the chin area of his mask. Hillsboro had taken a 2-0 lead after a leadoff single in the first by Jorge Perez and a triple by Geraldo Perdomo over the head of center fielder Fernando Kelli. Perdomo would score on an L.T. Tolbert sacrifice fly as the Hops did all their damage early against Eugene starter Paul Richan (0-2). Richan had shut the Hops down for four innings in his previous start and would allow only one more base runner on a hit batsmen before departing in the fourth inning.
With two outs in that inning and reliever Ethan Roberts on the hill, an error on first baseman Gustavo Polanco gave the Hops an extra out. Will Gorman followed with a base hit and January delivered in his first at bat, a bloop double to left that plated Gorman and Francis Martinez . Keshawn Lynch followed wtih an RBI single and the Hops grabbed a 5-0 lead.
Starting pitcher Ryan Weiss was brilliant over four innings, facing the minimum number of batters with four strikeouts and no hits allowed. Kenny Hernandez (6-3) took over in the fifth and allowed four hits and one run with four strikeouts and no walks over four innings to win his league-leading sixth game.
The Hops added runs in the sixth and eighth innings to pad their lead. January cracked a shot to the 406 mark in deep right center field and raced to third with his team-leading fourth triple of the season. Lynch brought him home with a sac fly. Later in the inning, Tolbert hit the Hops' third three-bagger of the game, driving home Perdomo. Tolbert trotted home on Andy Yerzy's RBI single.
Perdomo reached base four times and scored three runs for the Hops. Eugene's only run came in the fifth on an RBI triple by Nelson Velazquez. Fernando Kelli had two hits for the Ems, extending a hitting streak to six games.
Hillsboro entertains the Seattle Mariners' NWL affiliate Everett AquaSox in the first game of a five-game series Thursday night. Game time is 7:05 p.m. with pregame coverage beginning at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Northwest Rip City Radio 620 AM and ripcityradio.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.