EUGENE, ORE. --- The Hillsboro Hops scored a run in the ninth inning and a run in the tenth on Thursday night at P.K. Park to notch a 3-2 win and complete a three-game sweep of the Eugene Emeralds. Hillsboro now has a four-game lead over Eugene and Salem-Keizer with
EUGENE, ORE. --- The Hillsboro Hops scored a run in the ninth inning and a run in the tenth on Thursday night at P.K. Park to notch a 3-2 win and complete a three-game sweep of the Eugene Emeralds. Hillsboro now has a four-game lead over Eugene and Salem-Keizer with 10 games to play, and the Hops hold the tiebreaker over both clubs. Hillsboro is attempting to qualify for the postseason for a Northwest League-record sixth consecutive season.
A series of mistakes by Eugene and clutch hits by Andy Yerzy and Jorge Barrosa led to the win. Hillsboro trailed 2-1 when Jesus Marriaga advanced to second base on a throwing error by Emeralds third baseman Josue Huma leading off the top of the ninth inning. Marriaga advanced to third on Liover Peguero's fly out to right field, and scored on Yerzy's base hit to left.
After Liu Fuenmayor worked a scoreless bottom of the ninth, Hillsboro began the top of the 10th inning with Kevin Lachance placed at second. With one out, a passed ball sent Lachance to third base, forcing Eugene to bring the infield in. Jorge Barrosa then bounded one through the drawn-in infield and into right field, scoring Lachance with the go-ahead run.
Eduardo Herrera came in to pitch the bottom of the tenth, with Eugene's Jake Washer placed at second base to begin the inning. Herrera struck out Ryan Reynolds, induced Luis Vazquez to ground out (sending Washer to third base), then retired pinch-hitter Grayson Byrd on a fly ball to Marriaga.
Fuenmayor (1-0) got the win, and Herrera earned his seventh save. Aneuris Rosario (0-2) took the loss.
Hillsboro (18-10 in the second half, 42-24 overall) has now won five consecutive games, and they are 7-1 since their worst stretch of the year, a 1-6 start after the All-Star break.
Eugene (14-14 in the second half, 30-36 overall), had taken a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second against 18-year-old Hops starter Blake Walston, making his NWL debut. Walston, a first-round draft pick this year (taken 26th overall out of New Hanover High School in North Carolina) made Hops history when he entered the game, becoming the first pitcher to play for Hillsboro during the same year in which he was drafted out of high school. Walston issued a one-out double in the second to Reynolds. Reynolds advanced to third base on a wild pitch and scored on a ground-out. That was the only run Walston allowed in his scheduled two-inning stint, as he gave up two hits, walked none and struck out three.
The Hops tied the game 1-1 in the fifth on a sacrifice fly by Daniel Wasinger, but Eugene regained the lead in the seventh on an RBI single by Alex Guerra.
Deyni Olivero worked the third through seventh innings for the Hops (allowing four hits and one run), but was denied his eighth win, which would have been a single-season Hillsboro record. Mailon Arroyo worked a 1-2-3 eighth for the Hops.
Salem-Keizer --- already in the postseason because they won the first half --- can be factored out of the second-half playoff race. Boise has dropped eight consecutive games and has fallen eight games behind, making this a two-team race between Hillsboro and Eugene. Because of the sweep, Eugene would have to gain five games in the standings over the season's final 10 games to advance to the playoffs. Hillsboro's magic number stands at six --- any combination of Hops wins and Eugene losses totaling six, and the Hops are in.
Hillsboro now travels to Spokane to begin a four-game series on Friday night, before returning home to face the Boise Hawks in the final regular-season homestand August 28th-30th. The Hops then finish the season with a three-game set in Boise August 31st-September 2nd.
Eugene's remaining schedule includes four games in Everett, four at home against Salem-Keizer, and two at Salem-Keizer.
Friday night's game from Spokane begins at 6:30 PM on Rip City Radio 620AM, and on the internet at RipCityRadio.com.