After two dazzling wins to open the season, the Hillsboro Hops showed they could win the close ones as well. Center fielder Tra-Mayne Holmes doubled home left fielder Ryan Dobson from first for the go ahead run in the eighth. Holmes was thrown out on the same play to end the inning trying to stretch it into a triple but it was enough to hold on for their third consecutive win to open the season.
Franklyn Soriano, LHP out of the Dominican Republic, started for the Hops and spread out six strike-outs over four innings. Soriano ran into trouble in the second and third allowing the Aquasox’s two runs but regained mastery in the fourth with his sixth strikeout to end the inning.
Before those two runs, the Hops struck first. Francis Martinez led off the second inning with a double and darted over to third on a wild pitch. From there, second baseman Ryan Tufts brought him home on a sacrifice fly to left.
The lead was short-lived. The Aquasox took the lead 2-1 over the next couple of innings. In the top of the fourth, Francis Martinez knocked his second home run in two games over the center field fence to tie the game again at 2-2.
With a pitch count resting at 70, it was time for the cavalry to arrive. Kyler Stout took the mound with the score tied at 2-2. With Ethan Larrison, Rafael Pujols and closer Wesley Rodriguez, the four combined to keep the Aquasox scoreless for the next five innings, allowing only three hits the rest of the way. Larrison (1-0) was the pitcher of record to earn the win. Wesley Rodriguez (S-2) picked up his second save of the season in back to back games.
The Hops have shown sharp fielding in all three games at times showing off all-star level skills. But this game also showed some slips creeping into the line-up with two errors. A fielding error and a passed ball were instrumental in allowing an unearned run for Everett’s first score. But, by staying alert, they were able to limit the home team to two runs and eke out the close win. This was exemplified in the second inning when catcher Ryan January threw down to first baseman Francis Martinez for the pick-off and the second out of the inning.
The Everett Aquasox outhit the Hillsboro Hops for the second game in a row, 6-5. But the score shouldn’t have been that close. The Hops batters maximized almost every base runner leaving only one stranded on base. The Aquasox on the other hand, stranded ten of their twelve base runners as the Hops pitching and fielding performed when needed.
The Hops bats also were there when needed. Francis Martinez starred again at the plate with his second home run of the season in the fourth. Martinez also added a double and scored two of the Hops three runs.
The Hillsboro Hops (3-0) move into sole possession of first place in the Southern Division with the win. The Everett Aquasox (0-3) remain one game behind a three-way tie for first in the Northern Division. The win also gives the Hops a series win of the five game stand with game four Monday night. Right hander Jheyson Caraballo is scheduled to start for the Aquasox. The Hops starting pitcher is yet to be determined.