The Hillsboro Hops struggled at the plate and fell to the visiting Boise Hawks, 5-1. Starting pitcher Ryan Luna (W, 5-4) went six innings giving up the lone Hops run on three hits.
Luna came within three batters of a perfect game. The no-hitter was given up on Bryan Araiza’s double in the fifth with two outs. In a strange turn of events, Araiza was then caught off base by the catcher Hidekel Gonzales and was gunned down trying to make third. With this happening before Tra’Mayne Holmes making his plate appearance count, it left Luna with still the minimum number of batters faced towards a perfect game.
That, however, also went bye in the sixth when Camden Duzenack walked with two outs and Connor Owings on second. It would also be the only inning where more than three Hops batters stepped to the plate in one inning.
The lone Hops score started with a dribble up the middle by Owings for a single in the sixth and took second on a balk by Luna. After a Duzenack walk, Ryan Grotjohn singled Owings home all the way from second.
The emotional lift that started the sixth inning may have come from a defensive play the previous inning. Hawk Aubrey McCarty led off with a sharp line drive just left of the second base bag. It was a clear shot past the infield. Or so did the crowd think. Shortstop Camden Duzenack made a giant dive several feet across the infield dirt with his body parallel to the ground. His glove barely reached the ball before it could escape the infield and swallowed up McCarty’s hit. The only thing missing was Duzenack’s red cape.
The first reaction from the home crowd was an audible gasp of disbelief followed quickly by a thunder of applause and several standing in appreciation. The energy from the crowd carried over to the next inning uplifting the Hops at the plate for their most successful inning of the game.
Luna still gave a magnificent performance facing only three batters above the minimum for the win. After he pitched his way out of the inning, Luna was relieved with a deserved spot on the bench to watch his team protect their lead and hand him the victory.
Tyler Keele (L, 5-5) opened for the Hops and ran into some difficulty early. The Hawks peppered him with three runs on two hits. Keele did not have command of his game at the start hitting two batters and missing the strike zone for a walk and a wild pitch. A couple of trips to the mound from Mike Parrot and catcher Tim Susnara helped calm Keele down and he was fine after that. Keele lasted for 5.1 innings on 94 pitches.
After giving up a Bret Boswell homer to lead off the sixth and a walk with one out, the pitch count was high enough and in walked Kevin Ginkel from the bullpen.
Boise’s bats knocked seven hits throughout the game. The Hawks were led by Hidekel Gonzales going 2 for 4 and Daniel Jipping’s double in the sixth.
The Loss dropped the Hillsboro Hops (14-14) to one game ahead of the Boise Hawks (13-15) for the Southern Division lead. Boise took a 1-0 lead in the three-game series. Both teams will return to Ron Tonkin Field for game two of the match. Expected pitchers are LHP Nick Kennedy (2-1) for the Hawks and RHP Tyler Vail (0-3) for the Hops.
Hops notes: Jordan Watson comes back to the Hops from the AZL D-Backs. The LHP was with the Hops earlier this season. Watson appeared in twelve games (in relief) for the Hops striking out 20 in only 1.2 innings.
By Greg Stoker