Steven Leyton Doubled Hops Over Ems 5-2
Steven Leyton doubled in the eighth inning giving the Hillsboro Hops the lead. Two batters later, Kristian Robinson smacked a two run homer for the final score and ice the victory. The home team held on for the 5-2 win against the Eugene Emeralds.
Hops Wake Up
The Hops explosion late in the game followed what looked like a very different game. Ems starting pitcher Zach Mort held sway over the home team for six innings but ran into trouble in the seventh. Up until that point, Mort controlled Hops batters like shooting ducks on a pond. Mort’s perfect game was broken up when he walked Kristian Robinson in the fifth. Robinson was quickly erased with a double play the following at bat leaving Mort with still the minimum number of batters faced and a potential no hitter.
Jesus Marriaga’ single in the seventh broke up the no-hitter with Steven Leyton already on base with a walk. Zach Mort once held a perfect game in his hands as far as the fifth. By the seventh, Mort had no chance for the win. Both runners scored, Leyton on a passed ball and Marriaga on Tristan English’s RBI single. The game went into the eighth inning tied.
The eighth inning proved even worse for the visiting Emeralds. David Garza led off for a walk and eventually scored the go ahead run when Leyton doubled him home. Robinson’s team leading seventh homer of the season didn’t turn off the lights but it became very dim for the Ems.
Eugene’s only chance to win was relighting the spark that gave them the lead in the first place. To lead off the game, lead off batter Fernando Kelli walked and scored the game’s first run for the 1-0 lead. In the fourth, lead off batter Zac Taylor doubled and scored off of Edmond Americaan’s RBI single.
The Em’s were able to spark in the eighth and ninth but were unable to start the fire as each inning produced only one single each. After the Ems led the game in commanding fashion, the Hops scored five unanswered runs to snatch the win away and stay alive for the first half championship.
Defense Keep Hops Close
The Hops may have won when Leyton doubled, but they needed the defense to stay in the game. In the second inning, first baseman Andy Yerzy cleanly fielded a grounder from Edmond Americaan but slipped when turning to first base. Going down to the ground, Yerzy scooted and reached the bag just in time to force out Americaan.
In the sixth, Ricky Martinez made a diving grab to rob Nelson Maldanado by rising up quickly and firing a strike to Yerzy at first. The eighth saw pitcher Jake Polancic picking off Americaan from second by catching him too far off base. With a run down that ended with Polancic covering third, the Ems lost a base runner in scoring position when the game was still tied at 2-2.
However, the chance for the first half championship was short lived. Boise took the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes into the twelfth inning before losing 4-3. The tying run was on second when the lights went out. The Salem-Keizer Volcanoes win the Southern Division first half championship. The Spokane Indians win the first half championship for the Northern Division.
Despite their win, the Hillsboro Hops (23-14) remain two games behind the first half champions Volcanoes. The loss dropped the Eugene Emeralds (16-21) to seven games behind the Hops.
Both teams meet again Monday night for the third and final game of the series. The Hops have a chance to sweep. Andrew Saalfrank (0-1) will take the mound for the Hops. In his last appearance on Tuesday, Saalfrank pitched one inning and struck out three, but allowed one run for the loss.
Eduarniel Nunez (1-1) takes the mound for Eugene. In his last appearance, Nunez went two innings against the Hops and allowed no runs in the no decision.
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