PASCO, WASH. --- Matthew Acosta hit a two-run home run off Hillsboro Hops starter Marcos Tineo in the bottom of the second to put the Tri-City Dust Devils up 2-0, and Tri-City went on to a 6-0 win on Tuesday night at Gesa Stadium to force a fifth and deciding game of the 2019 Northwest League Championship Series.
It was the second remarkable bounce-back of the series for Tri-City. The Dust Devils suffered stunning ninth-inning losses in games one and three, but in each case bounced back for lopsided wins.
Many of the Hops' wounds were self-inflicted. With the score still 2-0 in the bottom of the fifth, Hillsboro left-hander Liu Fuenmayor walked the first two men to face him, then got an out on a force play at second. Right-hander Yan Sanchez --- the former Hops infielder, now in his first year as a pitcher --- came in and walked all three batters he faced, forcing home two runs. Nick Gatewood then hit a sacrifice fly off of Justin Garcia to make it 5-0, and the Dust Devils had scored three times without a base hit.
Tri-City tacked on a run in the sixth on another sacrifice fly, this one off the bat of Logan Driscoll.
Unlike the first seven innings of Monday's game three, the Hops had their chances in game four. With an opportunity for a momentum-building lead in the top of the first, they left a runner at second. That would set the tone for the night: Hillsboro had seven hits, drew two walks, and had another base runner on an error... but the Hops went 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
Incredibly, Hillsboro lost just twice by more than four runs during the 76-game regular season, but they've already suffered two such defeats in the first four games of this series.
The deciding game of the Championship Series will be Wednesday night at 7:15 at Tri-City. Right-hander Connor Grammes will start for Hillsboro. He was 0-1 with a 4.11 ERA during the regular season in nine games (six starts). He will be opposed by righty Nick Thwaits, who was 4-3, 4.66 for Tri-City.
Wednesday's radio pregame show begins at 6:45 PM on Rip City Radio 620 AM, and on the internet at www.RipCityRadio.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.