The Hops had more than a dozen chances to score Friday night, but could not deliver a key blow with runners on base. It turns out they didn't need anyone on base to beat Tri-City for the second consecutive night.
Joey Rose led off the eighth inning with a solo home run to left field and the Hops (9-6 second half, 33-20 overall) turned a huge double play in the bottom of the inning to preserve a 1-0 win over the Dust Devils (5-10, 23-30) at Gesa Stadium.
It was Rose's second home run in as many nights, his seventh of the season and league-leading 25th extra-base hit. With a stiff wind blowing out to left field most of the night, Rose's shot came during a brief period of calm as the U.S. flag hung practically motionless. Otherwise, that ball might still be soaring.
The Hops had squandered multiple scoring opportunities throughout the game, beginning in the first inning when they loaded the bases with none out against Tri-City starting pitcher Omar Lopez. After Jake McCarthy led off the game with a bloop double, Lopez walked Geraldo Perdomo and Andy Yerzy, bringing Rose to the plate. The Hops' third baseman was caught looking at strike three before Francis Martinez grouned into an inning-ending double play.
So it went for several innings. Lopez, an 18-year-old southpaw, walked five and hit a batter through 3 2/3 largely ineffective innings, but was able to escape danger with timely outs and a pair of double-plays before departing in the fourth. The Devils got scoreless relief from Jonathan Guzman and Korey Anderson before another lefty, Cody Tyler came on to start the eighth.
Tri-City put runners at first and third with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning. After Yeison Santana surrendered a one-out infield hit to Grant Little, the Hops turned to their All-Star closer Josh Green to try to get a five-out save. Luis Asuncion ripped a base hit to right center sending Little to third, which brought Tri-City catcher Blake Hunt to the plate. The second-year pro, drafted out of athletic power Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, California last year, had an impressive night behind the plate, gunning down two Hilsboro base stealers and was on the receiving end when Hillsboro's Jake McCarthy was thrown out at the plate on an attempted first-and-third double steal in the third inning. With the count 3-1, Hunt hit a slow roller toward short. Perdomo charged the ball as Little raced home and threw back across his body to second, where L.T. Tolbert turned the relay throw to first in time to nab Hunt, a brilliant double-play the Hops had to have with little chance of getting the out at the plate.
Green polished off the save, retiring the side in order in the ninth assisted by another fine defensive play by Tolbert, who snared a hot, one-hop liner off the bat of Dwanya Williams-Sutton and threw him out for the first out.
Santana went 1 1/3 innings, retiring four of the five batters he faced to pick up his first win of the season. In addition to his brilliant play at short, Perdomo reached base three times on two walks and a bunt single. McCarthy reached base four times, going 2-for-3 at the plate and also made a fine defensive play in center field, running down a deep shot to the warning track by Luke Becker with one out in the seventh inning.
Hillsboro outhit Tri-City 8-7. Only two of the Devils' seven hits, all singles, left the infield. Tri-City has lost six straight. In two games of the series, the Dust Devils have 11 singles with only four of them hit out of the infield. Asuncion has three of them. Tri-City pitchers combined to walk ten batters and hit another, but none of the free passes scored as Hillsboro went 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
Catch the live broadcast of game three of the series Saturday night, with the pregame show starting at 6:45 p.m. on NBC Sports Northwest Rip City Radio 620 AM. First pitch is at 7:15 p.m.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.