With the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th, Francis Martinez faced down opposing pitcher Jordan Guerrero with a full count. When the ball whizzed by the plate, Martinez tossed his bat into the air with the confidence of a man who just won the game for his team. Hillsboro Hops come back from 4-1 down to beat the Tri City Dust Devils 5-4. Martinez did it with two outs looming over him.
The Hops scored first in the first inning when Jose Caballero grounded out, giving the chance for Tra Homes, who reached base on a double, to dart home with the game’s first score. But, that would be it for a while.
In the top of the third, the Dust Devils scored three runs to take the lead. But first, Tre Carter had to score off of Grant Little’s single to tie the game. In the same inning, Olivier Basabe came to the plate with the bases loaded. His single brought home Aldemar Burgos and Little for the lead.
Winning Streak Over?
When facing the deficit, the home crowd began wondering if this would be the end of the Hops latest winning streak? The Hops came into the game with a three game winning streak and took the first two games of this five game series. But, would the streak end tonight?
The road team added another run in the fifth when Tre Carter came home on Owen Miller’s sacrifice to center field. When staring up at the 1-4 deficit, the crowd was uncharacteristically silent. The fans needed the players to get the rally started and the crowd would follow.
The Hops didn’t waste time wondering. Being down before, they knew they could win it. The young men just had to do it one run at a time. At times, it was both easy and hard. But, mostly it was unorthodox. In the bottom of the fifth, Tra Holmes tripled down the right field line. Dobson brought him home by striking out. Yes, Dobson struck out but catcher Chandler Seagle dropped the ball. Seagle hastily threw to first. Tra was off and slid under the tag on the throw back. The Hops were within two.
One inning later, with Joey Rose and Jake McCarthy on base, Francis Martinez singled home Rose. Keyshawn Lynch tied the game when he grounded out and McCarthy dashed home on the throw to first. The game went to extra innings.
The game came down to just one pitch. In the bottom of the tenth, Francis Martinez stepped up to the plate one more time, this time with the bases loaded. There were already two outs so the pressure was do or die. Martinez stood firm protecting the plate. When the count reached full, Francis held the bat high and ready for the next pitch. Martinez watched the ball sail by him and into the catcher Chandler Seagle’s mitt. Celebrating, Martinez threw the bat high and away, just like the pitch, and raised his arms higher. The game was over.
Matt Mercer started the game for the Hops and pitched a scoreless first inning. Franklyn Soriano pitched four innings and tabbed six strikeouts but also allowed all four runs (three earned) by the Dust Devils. Ethan Larrison (W, 2-0) came on for the scoreless tenth to earn the win. Ryan Miller and Luis Castillo also held the visitors empty on the scoreboard.
Sam Keating started for the Dust Devils and went five innings with two runs scored. Jordan Guerrero (L, 0-1) pitched the ninth and tenth for the loss.
With the best record in the league, the win maintained the Hillsboro Hops (20-8) lead over the Boise Hawks (16-12) for the Southern Division lead. The Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (5-3) lost and dropped to five games back of the Hops. The Hops magic number to claim the first half championship is now down to seven (7).
The loss dropped the Tri City Dust Devils (13-15) to one game behind the two co-leaders of the Northern Division: the Everett Aquasox (14-14) and the Vancouver Canadians (14-14). Hillsboro has already won the five game series with the Dust Devils by leading 3-0. The teams return to Ron Tonkin Field Saturday night for game four. Tri City will start LHP Ramon Perez (1-1). RHP Adrian Del Moral (0-1) will take the mound for the Hops.