The Hillsboro Hops woke up for three runs in the fourth and made it stick for a 3-1 win over the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. Limited to six hits on the night, the Hops spent five of them in the high scoring inning. Throw in two wild pitches along with capping the inning off with Jorge Perez’ double and the Hops made the two-run lead enough to win the game.
The Hops pitching deserved most of the credit as they spread four Volcano hits, all singles, over the nine inning game. Brian Shaffer started for the Hops and went three innings allowing S-K’s sole run of the game on two hits. After nearly going for a no hitter in his last start, Shaffer continued his mastery over the mound. The win went to Kevin McCanna (W, 2-0) who pitched six scoreless innings on two more hits for the win.
It was Volcano starter Jose Marte (L, 1-3) who gave up all three runs for the loss. Marte lasted six innings. Other than the five-hit fourth inning, Marte kept the Hops hitless the rest of his stay on the mound.
Pavin Smith cracked the Hops only hit away from the fourth inning in the bottom of the eighth. His double was the other extra base hit aside from Perez’s run scoring double in the fourth. No Hops batter had more than one hit on a night where safe arrivals at first base were rare for both teams.
The win gave the Hillsboro Hops (8-7) the series win in the rubber match, 2-1. With the victory, Hillsboro maintained a one-game lead over the Boise Hawks on top of the Southern Division. The loss dropped the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (6-9) to two games back of the division leaders and still remain in a tie with the Eugene Emeralds for third place.
The Hops will hit the road for a five-game series with the northern division Tri City Dust Devils. The Volcanoes will travel to the Vancouver Canadians for a five-game series of their own.
Hops notes: RHP Erbert Gonzalez was promoted to the Kane County Cougars, a full season single A team of the Diamondback farm system. While with the Hops, the all-star closer had a highly respectable 2.01 ERA over 22 innings of relief spread out over 19 games. He saved seven games out of eight opportunities, striking out 27 batters. The Venezuelan native was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Diamondbacks in 2014.
Gonzalez made his Kane County debut Thursday night pitching the ninth inning of a 5-1 Cougar win. Erbert allowed one hit and struck out another batter for a scoreless inning.
Eclipse notes: In a strange turn of events, both Hillsboro and S-K will meet again on August 19th-22nd during a rare four-game series in Salem-Keizer. Even rarer, the third game will take place on August 21st, the day of the eclipse known around the world. The Volcanoes home stadium lies within the area of totality. The game will have a special start time of 9:35 am so both teams and the home crowd can take a break during the game to enjoy the total eclipse. It will be the first eclipse-delay in baseball history. The host team will feature an Eclipse Breakfast from 6-9am before the game. NASA will be present giving a presentation every half hour on the half hour from 6:30-9 am. The game will momentarily pause during the eclipse. Tickets are still available.
By Greg Stoker