There is a new batting leader in the Northwest League and his name is Jorge Perez.
Perez scored the go-ahead run in the sixth inning Tuesday night after his second hit and second stolen base of the game and the Hops defeated the Spokane Indians 4-3 to complete a sweep of the five-game series.
In front of a record crowd of 5,506 at Ron Tonkin Field Tuesday night, the Hops (13-6) picked up their third five-game series sweep in franchise history and second at home, both coming against Spokane (6-13). The win was Hillsboro's seventh straight, one shy of the franchise record set twice during the 2014 championship season.
The Hops got to Indians starting pitcher Hans Crouse (1-1) for three runs in the fourth inning to break a scoreless tie. Crouse, a 2017 third-rounder and one of the Rangers' top minor league pitching prospects, retired the first nine Hops of the game before Tra Holmes led off the fourth with a home run to left center, his fourth of the year. Perez beat out an infield hit to shortstop, took second on a wild pitch, stole third, then scampered home on another pitch to the backstop. After Ryan Tufts walked, Crouse uncorked his third wild pitch of the inning before a passed ball on Isaias Quiroz moved Tufts to third. Keshawn Lynch punched a two-out single through the shortstop hole to plate the Hops' third run of the inning.
Adrian Del Moral pitched four solid innings, departing with a 3-0 lead after striking out five with a walk and two hits allowed. Brian Christian (2-0) came out of the Hillsboro pen to retire the side in the fifth, but ran into trouble in the sixth inning. Tyler Depreta-Johnson led off with a double and scored on Diosbel Arias' one-out double. That brought up the NWL's home run leader Curtis Terry, who launched his eighth dinger of the year just to the left of the 400 foot sign in center field to tie the game at 3-3.
Perez lined a single up the middle that nearly scalped Crouse to open the sixth inning, stole his second base of the night and moved to third on Jose Caballero's infield hit. With the go-ahead run at third and none out, Tufts hit a slow ground ball deep in the hole at short. Depreta-Johnson made a fine play to retire the Hops' first baseman, batting cleanup for the first time as a pro, but had no chance to prevent Perez from scoring his second run of the game.
That was all the cushion the Hops would need. Trevor McKenna pitched a 1-2-3 seventh with two strikeouts. Kai-Wei Lin gave up a leadoff single to Depreta-Johnson in the eighth, but retired Tanner Gardner on a harmless fly to left before fanning Arias, one of the league's top hitters, looking at a nasty breaking ball. With Terry due up, the Hops turned to Josh Green to get the final out in the eighth. On a 2-2 pitch, the 6-2, 255-pound first baseman they call "Big Rig" hit a harmless tapper up the first base line and Green threw out the Tribe slugger before retiring the side in the ninth on three ground balls.
The previously slumping Holmes went 2-for-4 on the night and is now tied with Francis Martinez for the team lead in home runs, but Perez tortured the Tribe this series. Now leading the NWL with a .378 average after four consecutive multi-hit games against Spokane, Perez delivered the game-winning hit in the ninth inning of Saturday's 3-2 win, three hits in Sunday's 6-0 victory, an RBI double and the game-winning run in Monday's 7-6 walk-off win and two more hits and two runs Tuesday. The second-year Hops' outfielder went 9-for-16 with five runs scored and four runs batted in for the series and has now hit in six consecutive games. Perez also stole four bases the last two games and is second in the NWL in steals with nine, while he qualified for the league batting race for the first time after reaching the plate appearance threshold, debuting at number one with a bullet.
The Hops will watch Independence Day fireworks for the second night in a row Wednesday when they open a three-game series with Salem-Keizer at Volcanoes Stadium. The Hops lead the Volcanoes by a game in the NWL South Division standings. Pregame coverage begins at 6:05 p.m. with first pitch at 6:35 p.m.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.