Another dramatic showdown between Northwest League South Division rivals turned into a ninth inning rout.
Eugene batted around in the ninth against Hops relievers Breckin Williams and Juan Torres, breaking a 4-4 tie with six runs in a 10-4 victory in the clinching second game of the NWL South Division playoff series.
Williams hit Michael Cruz to lead off the inning, ending a streak of 14 consecutive batters retired by the Hops' second-year reliever. Jhonny Bethencourt followed with a base hit before Gustavo Polanco grounded to third. A potential double play went out the window when Hops' third baseman Drew Ellis initially went to tag Cruz before throwing the ball to second for the force on Bethencourt. Polanco was able to beat the relay throw. Then the bottom fell out.
Miguel Amaya hit a towering double that missed clearing the left field wall by a couple of feet as pinch-runner Jose Gonzalez scored the go-ahead run. After an intentional walk to Hughes loaded the bases, number nine hitter Chris Singleton cleared them with a doubled to right field. The Emeralds continued to pour it on when Zach Davis greeted new pither Juan Torres with an RBI triple and scored on Jared Young's sacrifice fly.
The Hops had tied the score in the bottom of the eighth inning when Luis Lara led off with a double against Emeralds' closer Luis Aquino. After a wild pitch moved pinch-runner Dan Swain to third, Drew Ellis hit a slow grounder to second base. With the infield drawn in for a potential play at the plate, Young muffed the ball, leaving his only chance for an out at first as Swain scored to tie the game at 4-4.
Eugene took the early lead with three runs off Hops' starting pitcher Tyler Badamo, who bounced back to retire 12 straight batters after surrendering a two-run homer to Hughes in the top of the third. Hillsboro answered with a three-spot of its own in the bottom of the third when Pavin Smith yanked a fly ball down the right field line that just cleared the foul pole for his first professional homer. The shot came off Jesus Camargo, Eugene's starting pitcher, who was a third of an inning away from qualifying for the NWL ERA title, which he would have won (2.39). Camargo gave up four hits and three walks over four innings, striking out seven batters.
Badamo departed after six innings, allowing six hits and three earned runs with seven strikeouts and no walks. Reliever Kevin Ginkel was greeted with a leadoff double by Bethencourt, who scored on Hughes' two-out single to put Eugene up 4-3. At that point, the Emeralds had scored all seven of their runs in the series on two-out base hits.
Williams, who hadn't suffered a loss in two pro seasons, was charged with five earned runs in a third of an inning. Aquino blew his third save in the last four outings, but picked up the win, striking out three in two innings with two hits and no walks allowed.
The Emeralds outhit the Hops 12-6, led by Bethencourt, who went 3-for-4 and reached base five times with four runs scored in the two-game series. Hughes had three RBI and two runs scored.
Lara had two hits for the Hops and his second double of the postseason.
Hillsboro had reached the postseason for the fourth consecutive season after winning both the first and second-half NWL South Division titles. Eugene eliminated the Hops for the second straight year. The Emeralds went 10-4 against the Hops in 2017, including the two playoff games.
Eugene will face Vancouver in the NWL Championship Series starting Saturday following the Canadians' two-game sweep over Spokane.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.