S.P. Rewards: Hops Win On HR In 9th
EUGENE—The Hillsboro Hops were down to their final out in the 9th inning, when S.P. Chen seized his moment of atonement. The Hillsboro second baseman booted a ball in the eighth that allowed the Eugene Emeralds to take a 5-4 lead. Chen didn’t miss the ball in his second bite
EUGENE—The Hillsboro Hops were down to their final out in the 9th inning, when S.P. Chen seized his moment of atonement.
The Hillsboro second baseman booted a ball in the eighth that allowed the Eugene Emeralds to take a 5-4 lead. Chen didn’t miss the ball in his second bite at the apple. The 3rd-year pro from Taiwan blasted a 2-run homer to right center with two outs in the top of the ninth inning to lift the Hops (15-24) to a 6-5 win over the Emeralds (21-17) Sunday at P.K. Park.
Hillsboro earned a series split against its nemesis and completed its 12-game road trip with a record of 5-7.
The Hops grabbed a 4-0 lead early, courtesy of two Eugene errors that led to three unearned runs. Starting pitcher Eli Saul was stout through four innings, holding the Ems scoreless on two hits and one walk with two strikeouts. Reliever Peniel Otano worked a 1-2-3 fifth with a strikeout and the game was cruising along at a Formula 1 pace until Hillsboro’s bullpen woes reared up again in the sixth inning.
A leadoff walk to Ghordy Santos followed by an Edison Mora double brought the dangerous leadoff man Grant McCray to the plate. The #4-ranked Giants prospect had hit a grand slam the previous night, but this time walked to set the table for fellow top-ten prospect Aeverson Arteaga, who blasted a home run to right center field to tie the game. It was Eugene’s sixth grand slam against the Hops in the last two seasons.
With the game still tied in the eighth, Eugene had two aboard with two outs when Luis Toribio hit a routine grounder to the right side that clanked off Chen’s glove and into right field, allowing Arteaga to score the go-ahead run.
Eugene reliever John Michael Bertrand (1-1) handcuffed the Hops over four innings on Tuesday to earn a win in the series opener and the big lefty from Notre Dame picked up where he left off on Sunday, retiring the first ten batters to face him. But Josh Day worked his way aboard on a one-out walk in the ninth. After Gary Mattis struck out swinging, Chen redeemed himself, lifting a 1-0 Bertrand fastball over the right center field fence for his second home run of the season, giving the Hops a 6-5 lead.
Conor Grammes took care of the rest, striking out the Eugene side in the bottom of the ninth for his first career save in his 40th career appearance, all but two coming in a Hop uniform. Listher Sosa (1-0) got credit for the win after allowing an unearned run on one hit and two walks over two innings with three strikeouts.
The Hops won despite only three hits on the day, the fewest in their recent ten-game offensive surge. A throwing error on the first play of the game put Wilderd Patino aboard at second base and unwittingly also led to a three-run second inning. Patino scored on a Channy Ortiz double down the third base line, but left the game shortly after with a sore arm after colliding with first baseman Luis Toribio who was extending to try to reach third baseman Jimmy Glowenke’s errant throw.
Patino departed the game in the second inning in favor of Ivan Melendez. The unlikeliest leadoff hitter in pro baseball proved to be the right man at the right time. Two walks and a Seth Lonsway throwing error loaded the bases for the Hops in the top of the second. Jacen Roberson grounded into a double play that allowed Mattis to score. Up came Melendez to pinch-hit and the former Texas Longhorn slugger smacked his sixth home run of the season to put the Hops up 4-0. The two-run shot to left center extended Melendez’s current hitting streak to 14 games, one shy of the Hops record. All six of his home runs have come on the road trip.
Chen scored two runs for the Hops. For Eugene, Arteaga homered for the second consecutive game and walked twice, scoring two runs to go with four RBI. McCray also reached base three times on a single, double and base on balls.
The Hops return home for a six-game series against the surging Tri-City Dust Devils, who have the league’s top pitching staff. Game one of the series is Tuesday night. All games air live on Rip City Radio 620 and the Bally Live app. Pregame coverage begins at 6:20 with first pitch at 6:35 p.m.