For the second game in three nights, the Hillsboro Hops (known tonight as the Portland Mavericks), walked away with a win and the crowd lit up like it was already the Fourth of July. With one out in the bottom of the ninth, Andy Yerzy stepped up to the plate and poked a single past reaching shortstop Cristian Inoa. Game over.
The Return of the Portland Mavericks
The big story of the night started out as the return of the Portland Mavericks. Five times this year, the Hillsboro Hops will wear the red uniforms of the legendary Portland Mavericks. Find out who the Portland Mavericks are. Tonight, they got to see the Hillsboro Hops continue the spirit in the form of current players Jorge Perez, Andy Yerzy, Keyshawn Lynch and the rest of the red-clad Hops.
All they needed was a spark. Up to that point, the weather had caught up to the crowd and both teams. The game started out with temperature in the 70’s, but it still retained that muggy heat that could sap the energy out of anyone. The crowd sat quiet and at times, felt asleep. The batters on both sides were doing little to wake them up.
The game featured 22 strike outs with eleven each for both sides. While the Indians were getting a hit here and there, the Hops were reaching base on dropped balls in the outfield or by getting hit by a pitch. Neither side could sustain any offense while starting pitchers Scott Engler (Spokane) and Matt Mercer (Hillsboro) kept the scoreboard blank.
Back to Back Home Runs
The power erupted for a short burst. After Joey Rose singled and stole second, Francis Martinez launched a 397 foot two-run home run over the left-center field fence. Turning the period into an exclamation point, Ryan Tufts followed with a solo shot. Back-to-back homers woke up the crowd.
The Indians tried their best to put crowd back to sleep. In the top of the fourth, Spokane answered with loaded bases on three consecutive walks. Hasuan Viera and Obie Ricumstrict scored on Diosbel Arias’ fielder’s choice and a throwing error by the Hops. Arias scored on Curtis Terry’s double. Starling Joseph’s single scored Terry. Just like that, the magical back-to-back three-run power blast sequence was covered up by four runs and the home team faced a deficit.
Each team added a run each over the next four innings. Cristian Inoa added his own solo shot in the top of the sixth for Spokane. Keyshawn Lynch scored from second on Jorge Perez’ RBI single in the bottom of the seventh for Hillsboro. Still, the game felt like it had hit the snooze button and laid dormant for both sides. The game needed a wake-up call.
Enter Keyshawn Lynch – On Defense.
Indian Troy Dixon lined a shot over Keyshawn’s reaching glove for a sure hit into right field. But, Lynch’s glove kept rising and snared the sure-fire hit to end the inning. There had been no one on base to threaten a score but the crowd woke up. There was noise in the stands.
After Werner Leal struck out the Hops side in the bottom of the eighth, Diosbel Arias doubled in the ninth and scored on a sacrifice by Francisco Ventura for Spokane. The crowd went back to sleep. But, the Hops stayed awake.
Bottom of the Ninth
Down by two, Joey Rose took first as a hit batter. The crowd stirred. Dan Swain pinch ran for Rose and moved to second on Keyshawn Lynch’s single. Jorge Perez doubled and scored Swain. Andy Yerzy singled home Lynch and Perez. The Hops erupted from the dugout and surrounded Yerzy near second base. A cloud of white chalk dust exploded over every one.
The win is the Hops sixth in a row and have now won the first four games of the five-game home stand. The Hops have sole possession of first place in the Southern Division after Salem-Keizer won a late game the previous night and lost tonight. The loss dropped the Spokane Indians to four games back of the Everett Aquasox in the north. Both teams return for the final game Tuesday night. The Hops will have a chance to sweep the Indians.
Wesley Rodriguez (W, 2-0) earned the win. Reggie Meyers (0-1) is saddled with the loss.
Tuesday’s game with fireworks is sold out.