The Hillsboro Hops used a four-run seventh inning to put the game enough out of reach for the win over the host Boise Hawks, 6-1. Before that, it was nip and tuck with starting Hops pitcher Connor Grey (W, 6-2) maintaining control over a tight game.
JB Moss started the bottom of the first with a line drive double over the left infield but would not get past second. The Hawks would not register another hit until the bottom of the sixth with one out. Again, it was Moss and again he would not get past second. Grey allowed two ground-outs to end the inning and retired the side in the seventh for his usual high-quality start.
Grey did allow an unearned run to score in the fifth when Ryan Metzler reached first on Connor’s throwing error. Metzler scooted over to second on the bad throw with no outs. Two consecutive ground-outs by Danny Edgeworth and Hidekel Gonzalez brought Metzler around the horn for Boise’s lone score of the night. Grey allowed that one run with two Moss hits while striking out six. Kevin Ginkel came on for the last two innings and limited the Hawks to two scoreless hits.
The four-run seventh started out with the basics. Daulton Varsho sent a line drive into left and Tra’Mayne Holmes bunted him over to second on a sacrifice. Ryan Grotjohn singled into short left field to put runners at the corners. After Jorge Perez sent the third single of the inning into left, Varsho came home for the score and Holmes darted over to third to keep runners at the corners. It was time for a pitching change.
Starter Rico Garcia (L, 0-4) took the Boise loss after lasting 6.1 innings and giving up the initial run of the seventh. Garcia left with the score 3-1 and two inherited runners on base that would eventually score to up the margin to 5-1. Alec Byrd came on to finish the inning allowing one run on one hit and walked three batters.
It was during that stretch where Camden Duzenack walked to load the bases and then all runners advanced on a Byrd balk including Grotjohn across the plate. Jorge Perez scored on a sacrifice by Bryan Araiza. Duzenack touched home on a Paven Smith single. Daulton Varsho made his second appearance of the inning with a fly ball to end it.
Ryan Grotjohn led the Hops bats going 3 for 4 and scoring a run. Jorge Perez and Pavin Smith had the other multi-hit games while knocking in two runs apiece for the visiting team. Perez doubled in the fifth for the Hops lone extra base hit. Camden Duzenack and Daulton Varsho also hit safely during the game.
The win kept the Hillsboro Hops (2-1) in a tie for first place with the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes in the southern division. The loss dropped the Boise Hawks (0-3) to two games behind the division leaders.
Both teams return to Memorial Stadium Thursday night for the third and final game of the series. The Hops can go for the sweep.
By Greg Stoker