EUGENE, ORE. --- The inning should have been over. Eugene led 3-0 in the top of the second inning on Friday night at P.K. Park in Eugene, and Hillsboro had runners at first and third with two out. Hops right fielder Bryan Araiza lifted an easy pop between third and short. Emeralds third baseman Jhonny Bethencourt was underneath it… and then backed off, giving way to shortstop Rafael Narea. Problem is, Narea hadn't called him off. The ball fell to the turf for a gift single, and a run was home.
Eudy Ramos followed with a booming two-run double to center to tie the game. After Pavin Smith walked, Camden Duzenack reached base on an error on Bethencourt, allowing Ramos to score the go-ahead run. Daulton Varsho then banged a two-run double down the right-field line, capping the six-run frame. (The two-bagger extended Varsho's hitting streak to 11 games.)
Hillsboro added three in the fourth. Ramos had another RBI double, this one off the fence just to the left of straightaway center. Duzenack had a sacrifice fly, and Ryan Grotjohn drove home a run with a hit.
The nine runs was plenty for Hillsboro's pitching staff. Starter Brian Shaffer, on a strict innings limit, worked a scoreless second after allowing the three first-inning runs. Luis Castillo worked three shutout frames --- the third through the fifth --- to earn the win. Jeferson Mejia gave up a long solo home run to Michael Cruz leading off the sixth (Cruz's fourth home run in the last four games), but pitched out of a second-and-third, one-out jam in the same inning without allowing another run. Mejia also worked a scoreless seventh.
Breckin Williams and Matt Brill each worked a scoreless inning to close the game out.
It was Hillsboro's fourth straight win on the road trip, and their ninth consecutive road victory dating back to the five-game sweep at Vancouver July 15-19. Yet, it was just the Hops' second win in seven games against Eugene this season.
The first-half champion Hops (4-1 in the second half, 26-17 overall) have a one-game lead on Salem-Keizer in the second half. Eugene (2-3, 23-20) is two games out.
Ramos went 4-for-5, the 10th time this year a Hop has had four hits in a game (and the second time Ramos has done it).
Game two of the series is Saturday at 7:05. The pregame show begins at 6:35 PM on Rip City Radio 620 AM.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.