Hops newcomer L.T. Tolbert's first Hillsboro hit was a single back up the middle in the 10th inning to score Keshawn Lynch and Jorge Perez with the game-winning runs in a 5-4 walk-off win over the Boise Hawks (1-1 second half, 22-18 overall) Wednesday night at Ron Tonkin Field.
With the victory, the Hops evened the three-game series at a game apiece and improved to 5-1 in extra-inning games this season.
Tolbert, promoted from the Arizona League earlier in the day as part of a flurry of roster moves, was 0-for-3 with a walk when he stepped to the plate to face Boise reliever Jefry Valdez (1-1). On a 1-1 pitch he broke his bat, but shot a sharp grounder that skipped off the mound and into center field to plate the game-winning runs.
The inning began with pinch-runner Keshawn Lynch at second base. Valdez struck out Ryan January and got Dan Swain to fly out to shallow right. After falling behind leadoff batter Jorge Perez 2-0, the Hawks opted to put him aboard with an intentional walk .The move backfired when a Valdez wild pitch put the winning run in scoring position.
Kai-Wei Lin (2-1) pitched the final three innings for Hillsboro (1-1, 25-15), allowing five hits and an earned run with three strikeouts. With the Hops leading 2-1, Lin came in with two runners on base and none out in the eighth inning after Yeison Santana walked Boise's light-hitting catcher Hidekel Gonzalez and Kennard McDowell followed with a butcher-boy base hit up the middle, flashing a bunt stance before pulling the bat back and taking a full swing. Cole Anderson greeted Lin with a single to left to load the bases and back-to-back sacrifice flies by LeeMarcus Boyd and Cade Harris gave the Hawks the lead.
In the Hops half of the ninth, still trailing 3-2 and down to their final strike, Francis Martinez served a base hit to right field off lefty Hunter Williams. Jake McCarthy stepped to the plate, 0-for-3 in the game with a 12-game hit streak on the line. On the first pitch from Williams, McCarthy popped the ball up behind first base. First baseman Daniel Jipping went back and was called off by the second baseman McDowell, who raced into foul territory, then had to dive back into fair ground to try to make the catch. It bounced in safely as Martinez raced home with the tying run.
Boise plated a run in the top of the tenth on a two-out single up the middle by Harris, scoring Anderson, who had reached on his fourth hit of the night. But Boise lost two runners on the bases in the inning. With runners at the corners and none out, LeeMarcus Boyd hit a fly ball to left field. After Perez caught the ball, McDowell broke for home then stopped a third of the way as the ball sailed over the head of January. McDowell continued toward home, but retreated when Lin backed up the play and quickly got the ball to January in front of the plate. The Hops catcher chased McDowell back towards third where he was eventually tagged out by third baseman Joey Rose. Harris was thrown out at second later in the inning trying to advance to on the throw to the plate.
Hillsboro took an early 2-0 lead when Tra Holmes doubled with two outs and scored on a towering Rose home run to left field. Holmes would get an early trip to the showers when he argued balls and strikes during his next at bat and was tossed by home plate umpire Nick McFarland. Perez replaced Holmes at the plate, inheriting a 1-2 count and fanned, but reached base his next three times up before scoring the game-winning run.
Anderson went 4-for-5 at the plate for Boise, hitting his third home run of the season in the sixth inning off Mason McCullough, a member of the Hops' 2014 championship team, who made a rehab appearance out of the bullpen.
Martinez had two hits for the Hops, his fifth straight game with a hit and third multi-hit game in the last four.
The Hops and Hawks wrap up the three-game series Thursday night. Game time is 7:05 p.m. with the pregame show 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.