Ryan Tufts smacked a line drive over the drawn-in outfield with the bases loaded to bring the Hillsboro Hops the victory over the Tri City Dust Devils 7-6. Tri City brought in left fielder Grant Little to face the Hops with a five-man infield. The two remaining outfielders came in close behind as back up. Ryan Tufts easily lofted the ball over the heads and down to the left field corner. Jorge Perez just as easily scored from third for the winning run.
Two nights in a row, the Hops win in extra innings over the Dust Devils. Friday night, the Hops won in ten innings and Saturday in eleven. It seemed when the Hops took a 4-1 lead in the second inning, the game was in hand. Scoring was scarce. The game started with the wind blowing out to left field on a hot, 89 degree evening. By the middle of the game, the temperature cooled down to a balmy 81 degrees and the wind was gone.
Scoreboard Goes Blank
That was when pitching for both sides took over. Tri City used a platoon of seven pitchers. Gabe Mosser, Diomar Lopez and Dan Dallas combined for five scoreless innings. The Hops used six pitchers of their own. After the second, starter Adrian Del Moral, Brian Christian and Kai-Wei Lin combined for six scoreless innings.
Before the game ended, the Dust Devils erupted for three runs to tie the game at 4-4 in the top of the ninth. The Hops couldn’t score in the bottom and the game headed to the tenth. Each team scored one run apiece in the tenth to balance the score at 5-5.
The Eleventh inning made the difference. Tri City scored another run when Kelvin Alarcon scored from third on a passed ball by Ryan January. But, if the Hops had woken up in the previous inning after the bats were asleep for seven innings, now they were wide awake.
Ryan January started the inning at second base due to the new rule for extra innings. Jorge Perez followed with the assignment to pinch hit for Zach Hoffpauir. On the first pitch, Jorge responded with a triple to the fence through the left-center gap. January quickly headed home and tied the game at 6-6. Now, the Hops had Perez as the winning run standing at third with no outs.
Ryan Tufts Solves Defensive shift
That was when the visiting team decided to increase the infield and shorten the outfield since a long caught ball would let Jorge tag and run home for the winning score. To add some more strategy, Dust Devil pitcher Nick Kuzia intentionally walked two batters: Tra Homes and Ryan Dobson. Now, Perez could be considered a force out at home if needed. All of that did not make a difference.
Ryan Tufts stepped up to the plate wanting to redeem himself. Ryan struck out the first four times at bat but it did not get Ryan down. He knew he could help his team win with just one swing. Ryan waited for the right pitch and sent it curving over the center fielder Aldemar Burgos’ head and into the left field corner. Perez turned to make sure the ball cleared the last glove in its way and headed home before Burgos could get to the ball.
The Hillsboro Hops (21-8) extended their winning streak to five games with the victory over the Tri City Dust Devils while increasing their lead atop the Southern Division to five games. As a result of the second place Boise Hawks’ loss, the Hops magic number to clinch the first half crown is now reduced to five. The Eugene Emeralds were eliminated from the first half competition with their loss tonight.
The Tri City Dust Devils’ (13-16) dropped to two games behind the Northern Division co-leaders Everett Aquasox (15-14) and Vancouver Canadians (15-14).
Both teams return to Ron Tonkin Field Sunday afternoon at 4 PM for the fifth and final game of the series. The Hops have a chance to sweep the Dust Devils.
Oregon State Beavers Guests of Honor
Monday night’s game will feature guests of honor from the CWS champions Oregon State Beavers. While settling into their seats, fans will get to see the Beavers throw out the ceremonial first pitch at 6:50 PM. Before that, the Beavers will be available for fan autographs on the concourse from 6:15-6:45 PM. Get the details here.