The Boise Hawks Willie Abreu stepped to the plate in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded and one out with the winning run on second base. The Hillsboro Hops All Star Jake Winston had taken the mound at the beginning of the inning. Abreu struck a hard grounder to short and the Hops turned it into a double play to end the game, winning 6-5.
The game winning double play was not without its own troubles leading up to the defining moment. Garret Hampson had already doubled home Steve Linkous earlier in the inning to draw Boise within one run of the Hops. Jacob Bosiokovic loaded the bases when he was intentional walked by Jake Winston to set force-outs around the bases. If not for the intentional walk, Tyler Orris would have scored from third, tied the game and there would have been no double play.
The Hops exploded early in the game by scoring all six of their runs in the first three innings. Hillsboro squeaked by from the 6-1 lead in the top of the third with no lead to spare by the end of the game. Mark Karaviotos scored the first run at the start by smacking a triple and then scoring on Josh Anderson’s ground out.
The second inning brought four runs across the plate for the Hops as the line up went through the order. Alexis Olmeda walked and scored on Manny Jefferson’s double. A wild pitch by Mike Bunal brought Stephen Dezzi home from third. Jefferson and Ben DeLuzio came home on Josh Anderson’s hot single to shortstop Garrett Hampson that bounced off third baseman Tyler Follis.
Josh Anderson’s hard hit grounder took an errant bounce higher than expected bouncing off what looked like Tyler Follis’ temple. The third baseman stayed on the ground for several minutes before he left the field under assistance.
The game also marked the return of first baseman Stephen Dezzi to the Hops roster. Dezzi was a fan favorite for the 2015 Champion Hops and will make his home return Friday night at Ron Tonkin Field. He had been on a 50 game suspension.
After Stephen Dezzi doubled in the third and scored, the Hawks pitching settled the Hops bats down limiting them to only two more hits and blanks on the rest of the scoreboard. Boise took advantage of the opportunity to chip away at the lead, falling just short of the come back win.
The Hops Wei-Chei Huang (W, 1-1), normally a starter, took the mound for starting pitcher Mack Lemieux at the beginning of the fourth for the win. Huang started with some control issues hitting batter Wesley Jones with a pitch. Another wild pitch allowed Jones to scoot over to second. Jake Winston (S, 5) made it through the ninth for the save.
Inching back, Boise got within two in the seventh when Tyler Orris doubled and scored on Garret Hampson’s single. The ill-fated ninth saw them come within one run before the double play.
Mike Bunal (L, 0-2), who started for the Hawks, was chased in the second inning and saddled with the loss.
Hops bats didn’t strike as hot or as hard as last night’s scoring binge but they scored enough for the win column. Five different Hops shared the five hits on the night. Stephen Dezzi doubled and scored twice. Manny Jefferson doubled and scored. Mark Karaviotis tripled and scored. Steady Josh Anderson knocked in two runs.
With the win, the Hillsboro Hops (9-5) and Eugene stay tied at the top of the South Division. The Boise Hawks (6-8) fell to three games behind the leaders with their loss. Hillsboro wins the three game series 2-1.
The Hillsboro Hops come home after a long eight game road trip following the All Star Game to face the Vancouver Canadians for a five game home stand before returning to the road. Boise remains home for a five game homestand against Tri City.
By Greg Stoker