The Hillsboro Hops made up for lost time and took their frustrations of the last couple of games out at the plate when they left the Boise Hawks behind, 11-3. It was the sixth inning that brought the release. Up until that point, the game was a close one between the two teams that never threatened to leave the other far behind. That is, until the bottom of the sixth. Down by a score of 3-1, the Hops bats made a thunderous noise that announced they weren’t going to take it anymore.
Still, the Hops bats were not quiet before the explosive inning. The Hawk’s starting pitcher, Ryan Luna, went two short innings allowing the pesky Hops first run with three hits. Kyle Cedotal followed and kept the pace through the next three innings, keeping the Hops scoreless with only two hits.
Then the Hops erupted. Camden Duzenack started the inning with an infield single to short. Connor Owing singled to right to put runners at the corners. Billy Endris tripled both runners home. Bryan Araiza sent a steaming line drive to center scoring Endris. Just like that. Four Hops batters with four hits, three runs scored and no outs. It was time for another pitching change.
In walked Ethan Westphal to stop the bleeding. Well, that was the intent. Instead, the Hops kept going on their merry way. With one out, Bryan Araiza stole second. Yan Sanchez took first when he was hit by a pitch. Pavin Smith doubled to score Araiza and put two Hops runners in scoring position. Sanchez scored when catcher Sam Tidaback couldn’t stop a low pitch from getting past him. Kyle Smith singled home Pavin. Camden Duzenack, stepping to the plate for the second time in the inning singled home Kyle from second. While trying to stretch the single into a double, Duzenack was thrown out at second to end the inning.
With ten batters in the inning, the Hops scored seven runs on seven hits and now led the Hawks by a score of 8-3. Just to make sure, the Hops added three more runs in the eighth to remove any remaining doubt.
Connor Grey went six innings for the Hops. Despite allowing three earned runs, Grey came away with the win in thanks due to the Hops run support. Connor jumped to a second-place tie for the team lead for strikeouts by recording nine more tonight. The last three innings were a scoreless, two-hit team effort by the triumvirate of Rafael Pujols, Erbert Gonzales and Matt Peacock.
Kyle Smith led the Hops bats going 3-3 with a double, a home run, a walk, four RBI and scored three times. First round draft choice Pavin Smith debuted the night before with an 0-3 effort. Tonight, he more than made up for the slow start. In his second game in a Hops uniform, Pavin went 3-5 with a double, an RBI and scored two runs bringing his average up to .375. Tim Susnara, the former Duck, made his debut going 1-5.
The win brought the Hillsboro Hops (5-5) back up to a tie with the Boise Hawks (5-5) atop the Southern Division. The Eugene Emeralds made it a three-way tie for first with a win over Salem-Keizer.
Both teams return for the rubber match of the three-game series Sunday evening. The game time has been moved back to 6:05 pm due to the forecasted heat. Starting pitchers are expected to be RHP Matt Koch (0-0) for the Hops and LHP Keinter Olivares (0-0) for the Hawks.
Hops notes: Second baseman Tramayne Holmes, the Diamondbacks 11th round (322nd overall) draft choice this year, was assigned to the Hillsboro Hops. Holmes played his college ball at Faulkner, Alabama. To make room on the roster, catcher Gavin Stupienski was assigned to the Missoula Osprey. The Hops had been overloaded at the catcher position. The move reduces the position down to three players and allows more game time for Stupienski.
By Greg Stoker