Matthew Acosta Lifted Dust Devils Over Hillsboro Hops 6-0
Matthew Acosta lifted a mighty swing and put the Tri-City Dust Devils onto the scoreboard. The Hillsboro Hops vainly tried to join them but were held down by the pitching trio of Jason Blanchard, Wen-Hua Sung (W, 1-0) and Ethan Elliott (S, 1). For the second time in the series, the Dust Devils evened the championship round and now it goes down to the fifth and final game tomorrow night to determine who will be the 2019 champion of the Northwest League.
No Magic This Time
The Hillsboro Hops were active at the plate but came up short when they needed more. The Hops had base runners during every inning except for seventh and ninth when they started to run out of steam. But, during the first six innings, the distance between the two teams was actually much closer than the 6-0 lead achieved in the sixth inning by the Dust Devils.
The visiting team managed to get a runner in scoring position four times, all with one out or less. A fifth time, a runner reached second with two outs. But, with neither time, could they get the runner across the plate. After a recent history of scoring the runs they needed in the late innings to pull out a win, the needed runs never came.
Hard Work Instead
On the other side of the coin, the Dust Devils earned their runs the old fashioned way. When they saw a chance, they pounced at the opportunity. Like in the second when Matthew Acosta lifted the pitch he wanted out of the park with Luke Becker on board for the game’s first score.
Or, in the fifth when the Hops handed them five base runners free when five Tri-City batters walked in the same inning. Two runs walked in while Dust Devil batters stood patiently at the plate. Justin Garcia came out of the bullpen to regain control. But, Nick Gatewood saw the bases loaded with only one out to pounce for one last score on a sacrifice fly.
The final run came in the sixth when Matthew Acosta lifted a single to start the inning. After Reinaldo Ilarraza and Jordy Barley joined him with another walk and a single, Logan Driscoll pounced and lofted a sacrifice fly to right.
Shut Out Pitching
It is hard to say whether the bats or the arms won the game. Working together, it simply made it a lot easier. Jason Blanchard started the game and went three innings allowing no runs on just one hit and struck out two. It was a similar story for Wen-Hua Sung (W, 1-0) and Ethan Elliott (S, 1). No runs on three hits for each pitcher and the Dust Devils had their shut out. In total, they struck out twelve to go with only two walks. Marcos Tineo (L, 0-1) started for the Hops and gave up Acosta’s second inning homer for the loss.
Coin’s Other Side
However, the Hops saw a different story. While the Dust Devils used three different pitchers over nine innings, the Hops had to use six of their pitchers over eight innings. Instead of issuing 16 strikeouts like they did a couple of days ago, they only issued five. That only magnified the problem of also issuing ten walks. The Hops had trouble advancing the bases. The Dust Devils had no problem.
Add that to the lack of batting, and the Hops did not give themselves a chance. Hillsboro had eleven chances to knock a runner home when he reached scoring position. The Hops went 0-11.
The win evened up the championship series between the Hillsboro Hops (2-2) and the Tri-City Dust Devils (2-2). It now all boils down to the last game. Tomorrow night, game five will show us the champion of the Northwest League. No more chances after this. Whoever wins tomorrow’s game will win it all.
Each game has had its heroes and its losses. Both teams have provided plenty of both to make this series the most evenly matched I have seen in a long time. Also, one of the most exciting. For every Jonny Homza (TCDD) grand slam in the first inning, there has been a near walk-off two-run blast by Tristin English (HH) in the 9th. For every Tyler Holton (HH) going 87 pitches in a seven inning shutout with nine strikeouts, there have been a Luarbert Arias (TCDD) going 72 pitches and matching him scoreless inning after scoreless inning. Whoever wins tomorrow will have earned the champion label.
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