The Hillsboro Hops were the hare grabbing a quick lead but the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes were the tortoise inching their way to the 4-3 win. Logan Baldwin led off the eighth for S-K with a double and came around the bases on consecutive ground outs by teammates Orlando Garcia and Ryan Kirby for the winning run.
The Hops bats delivered three singles in the second to help score three runs and step ahead of the visiting Volcanoes with the first lead of the game. To help the home team along in the inning, Drew Ellis and Dan Swain pulled off a double steal to move both runners into scoring position. It helped as both runners came home on consecutive singles by Tra’Mayne Holmes and Tim Susnara. Holmes would score before the inning was over on a fielder’s choice by Ryan Grotjohn.
Early on, it looked like the Volcanoes would strike first as they loaded the bases in the first with no outs. The home team Hops were saved initially by an unassisted double play by short stop Ryan Grotjohn who snagged Ryan Kirby’s line drive and then stepped on the bag to double off Baldwin at second. A following ground out by Manuel Geraldo got the Hops out of a jam.
Tyler Vail started for the Hops and lasted through six innings giving up only two runs on four hits. But, then Vail started running into trouble in the seventh. Shane Matheny led off with a double and later scored on Dalton Combs single. It was time for a reliever to step to the mound. Vail stepped away with a runner on first, one out and the score 3-3.
Matt Peacock (L, 0-2) came on to get the Hops out of the inning with no more damage. However, Peacock would allow the go ahead run in the eighth to sustain the loss.
Garrett Cave (W, 1-0) was the pitcher of record when then the eventual winning run scored. John Russell (S, 4) closed out the ninth earning the save.
Tim Susnara led the Hops bats getting two of the five Hops hits on the night – all singles. It was the Volcano bats that were the loudest. They not only outhit their hosts 8-5, but they also smacked two doubles. Bryce Johnson, Baldwin and Matheny all had multi-hit games.
The Hillsboro Hops (7-7) retain a game lead in first place despite the loss. The rest of the division is breathing down their necks as the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes’ (6-8) win moved them into a three-way tie for second place with the Eugene Emeralds and Boise Hawks.
The Volcano win also tied the three-game series at one win a piece. Both teams return to Ron Tonkin Field for the third and final game to decide the winner, the tortoise or the hare. Expected pitchers are RHP Jose Marte (1-2) for the Volcanoes and RHP Brian Shaffer (0-0) for the Hops.
Hops notes: Don’t forget Harry Potter night rules Thursday night for the rubber match between Hillsboro and Salem-Keizer. Ron Tonkin Stadium will be transformed into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardy. There will be a costume contest for the fans as well as Quidditch games, broom races and even more.
By Greg Stoker