KEIZER, ORE. ---- The Hillsboro Hops withstood a two-run ninth-inning rally by Salem-Keizer to beat the Volcanoes 6-5 on Friday night at Volcanoes Stadium. The win moves first-place Hillsboro two games up on second-place Salem-Keizer with 16 games remaining in the first-half pennant race. It also secures the tie-breaker for the Hops, as Hillsboro finished 4-2 in head-to-head first-half meetings with the Volcanoes.
The Hops jumped in front with three in the first. Francis Martinez had a two-run double, and Keshawn Lynch drove home a run with a single. Another Lynch RBI base hit in the third made it 4-0 Hops.
Salem-Keizer's Aaron Bond cut the deficit in half with a two-run home run in the bottom of the third against Hops starter Matt Tabor (who had worked the first two innings on just 12 pitches), but the Hops answered with a solo home run from Jorge Perez in the top of the fourth to make it 5-2.
Tabor allowed two hits and two uncharacteristic walks in the fourth --- one with the bases loaded --- to bring Salem-Keizer to within 5-3, but Trevor McKenna came out of the Hops bullpen to retire Bond with the bases loaded to end the threat.
From the fifth through the eighth innings, Hillsboro was frustrated by Volcanoes relievers Zach Becherer and Mack Meyer, leaving runners in scoring position in each of those frames. (For the game, the Hops left 14 men on base, TEN in scoring position.)
But Salem-Keizer was shut down by the Hops bullpen. After McKenna worked a scoreless inning and a third, Ethan Larrison --- coming off a bout with tendinitis in his arm --- worked a 1-2-3 sixth inning in his first outing in 16 days. Kyler Stout then worked two scoreless innings, the seventh and eighth, racking up five strikeouts. (The first-year pro now has 20 K's in 10.1 Northwest League innings.)
Hillsboro finally broke through to add a run in the top of the ninth inning on a two-out single by Tra Holmes, scoring catcher Zack Jones, who had drawn a one-out walk and then swiped his first career base. That made it 6-3 Hops heading to the bottom of the ninth.
The extra run would prove to be the difference. Hillsboro committed two errors in the bottom of the ninth, as the Volcanoes scored twice on what should have been a game-ending double play. But with two out and the tying run at second, Josh Green retired Joey Bart --- the second-overall pick in the 2018 draft --- on a hard line-out to Lynch at second to end the game.
Green picked up his third save, and McKenna (1-0) got his first win. Salem-Keizer starter Gregory Santos (2-1) took the loss.
Hillsboro heads to Eugene to open a three-game series on Saturday. The radio pregame show begins at 6:35 on Rip City Radio 620 AM and www.RipCityRadio.com. First pitch from P.K. Park is scheduled for 7:05.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.