All the highlights belonged to the home team Wednesday night in front of a crowd of over 5,200 as the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes brought a crashing halt to Hillsboro's season-long seven game win streak.
The San Francisco Giants' top pick in the draft Joey Bart made a sparkling debut with a pair of homers and Kyle McPherson proved to be explosive, coming up a single short of the cycle with a grand slam as the Volcanoes annihilated the Hops 15-1.
Salem-Keizer outhit Hillsboro 18-3, holding the Hops to a single hit until the ninth inning, while putting the game away early with another impressive display at the plate.
McPherson's granny capped a six-run fifth inning and gave the Volcanoes a 14-1 lead at that point. The Salem-Keizer shortsop had already doubled and tripled and scored three runs before taking Hops' reliever Ryan Ricci out of the yard just inside the left field foul pole, one of four home runs for the Volcanoes, who pulled even with the Hops atop the Northwest League West Division standings.
McPherson came to the plate one more time in the seventh inning with a chance for the first Salem-Keizer cycle in a dozen years, but flied out to the warning track in right field.
Bart, a consensus All-America catcher and the number two overall pick in this year's draft out of Georgia Tech, made the fans quickly forget a first inning error. He drove in a run on a fielder's choice in the bottom of the first inning then blasted a home run to left to plate two more runs in the third, his first homer as a pro after 16 during the college season. After a fifth inning single, the ACC Player of the Year and Johnny Bench Award winner from Buford, Georgia smacked another home run in his final at bat, this time deep down the line to the opposite field, finishing with four runs batted in in his NWL debut.
Leadoff batter Jose Layer also homered for the Volcanoes, who lost to the Hops at home 17-2 nearly a year ago to the day on a night when Hillsboro's Yan Sanchez hit for the cycle.
Hillsboro actually had the first lead in the game. Tra Holmes tested Bart right away, taking off for second after being plunked by Salem-Keizer pitcher Jake Wong to open the game. Bart's throw to second was off the mark and skipped into center field, sending Holmes to third. Jorge Perez hit a chopper to first to plate the Hops' leadoff man, but things went quickly downhill from there.
Jackson Goddard (0-1) struggled to locate his fastball in the first inning and surrendered two runs, one earned on a pair of walks and a base hit in his second Hillsboro start. Salem-Keizer countered with its own third-rounder on the hill in Wong, the 80th selection in this year's draft from Grand Canyon University. In his NWL debut after a promotion from the Arizona League, the righthander pitched two scoreless innings before giving way to former USC Trojan Solomon Bates (2-0), who got credit for the win.
After a superb Hops debut pitching in back of Goddard on Friday against Spokane, Hillsboro lefty Bryan Valdez was shelled by the best hitting team in the NWL, allowing six earned runs on eight hits, including the Bart and Layer home runs over 2 2/3 innings. Ricci was tagged for six runs in the fifth inning alone, but all were unearned after a pair of errors on third baseman Joey Rose early in the inning.
The Hops will dust themselves off on Thursday and take on the Volcanoes in game two of the three-game series. Pre-game airtime on NBC Sports Northwest Rip City Radio 620 AM is at 6:30 p.m. with the first pitch at 6:35.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.