The numbers continue to beggar belief: the Hillsboro Hops--now one win away from tying the franchise single-season wins record--have won 10 of their last 11 games, they have won 16 out of 19 since the All-Star break, they are 21-6 in one-run games and following Monday afternoon's walk-off win are 8-1 in extra-inning games in 2018.
With one out in the tenth inning, L.T. Tolbert singled past the diving first baseman, driving in Keshawn Lynch with the game-winning run as the Hops defeated the Everett AquaSox 5-4 in front of 3,077 at Ron Tonkin Field.
Tolbert went 2-for-5 with two RBI and Geraldo Perdomo, whom the AquaSox (13-18 second half, 33-36 overall) intentionally walked to pitch to Tolbert, reached base four times, going 2-for-3 with two runs scored.
Chester Pimentel (2-0), the Hops sixth pitcher of the contest, struck out the side in the top of the tenth inning to earn the win as the Hops took four of five in the series against the Seattle Mariners' Northwest League affiliate.
The Hillsboro bullpen pitched 6 1/3 scoreless innings against the AquaSox as the Hops ran their second-half record to 23-9 and their overall mark to 47-23, both NWL-bests by a wide margin.
Hillsboro has won six consecutive series and is 16-3 since the NWL All-Star break at the beginning of August.
Kenny Hernandez made his first start on the mound since June. The NWL co-leader in wins issued a rare leadoff walk to Ryan Ramiz before Cal Raleigh blasted a home run to center field, his eighth of the season. The 3rd-rounder from Florida State has the second-most homers in the NWL since he debuted with Everett in mid-July.
The Hops got a run back in the bottom of the first when Geraldo Perdomo singled, advanced to second on a grounder to the right side, then tried to steal second base with two outs. The throw got past third baseman Bobby Honeyman for an error, allowing Perdomo to scamper home with an unearned run.
Hillsboro evened the score in the third inning when Tolbert singled to center field with Perdomo at first base. Everett center fielder Jansiel Rivera jogged in to scoop up the ball and lobbed it back to the infield. Meanwhile, Perdomo kept right on running, getting the wave home from manager Shawn Roof. The speedy shortstop slid home well ahead of the relay throw before Tolbert was gunned down trying to advane to second.
A leadoff double by Ryne Ogren, a one-out ground rule RBI double to left-center by Geoandry Montilla and an RBI single up the middle by Ryan Garcia spelled the end of Hernandez's shift in the fourth inning as the AquaSox regained a two-run advantage.
But another defensive lapse would pull the Hops back even. Down 4-2 in the seventh, Ryan Tufts doubled to the left field wall to lead off the inning. Everett southpaw Orlando Razo retired Will Gorman on a ground out to third before Dan Swain singled to center field. Another mistake by Rivera, overthrowing the cutoff man, allowed Swain to race to second base, putting the tying run in scoring position. Razo departed the game after a season-high 6 1/3 innings and reliever Penn Murfee whiffed Keshawn Lynch. With two outs and runners at second and third, Hillsboro leadoff batter Jake McCarthy hit a sharp ground ball to the right side directly to second baseman Nick Rodriguez, who muffed it. The ball deflected into shallow right as both Tufts and Swain raced home to tie the game 4-4.
While Hops relievers Justin Garcia (four up, four down, one K), Ethan Larrison (one inning, one hit, one K), Trevor McKenna (three up, three down in the seventh) kept the AquaSox in place until the eighth, Josh Green came on in the eighth with the game still tied at four. After a leadoff base hit by Bobby Honeyman, Green struck out Nick Rodriguez while Honeyman was gunned down trying to steal by catcher Andy Yerzy. In the ninth, Charlie McConnell hit a leadoff single and went to third on Garcia's one-out base hit past the diving Perdomo. With runners at the corners and one out, Rivera hit a grounder to short, Perdomo took it to the bag at second and fired to first base for an inning-ending twin killing.
Murfee mowed down the Hops order in the eighth and ninth innings, completing 2 2/3 hitless innings with four strikeouts and a walk. In the top of the tenth, the Hops turned to Pimentel, who struck out the Frogs' top three batters in order to set up the final act. With Lynch on second to start the inning and righthander Jamal Wade (1-2) on the hill for Everett, McCarthy struck out. After Perdomo was issued an intentional walk to set up the double play, Tolbert sent a 1-2 pitch bounding to the right side, just out of the reach of the diving Garcia. It was Tolbert's second walk-off hit of the year and the Hops' eighth walk-off win.
After a day off Tuesday, the Hops travel to Boise for their final road series, beginning Wednesday night at 6:15 p.m. Pre-game airtime will be at 6 p.m. on NBC Sports Northwest Rip City Radio 620 AM for all three games of the series.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.