The Hillsboro Hops made a valiant try by tying the game and send it into overtime but the gas tank was empty and the Tri-City Dust Devils left the home team in the dust 8-3 after eleven innings. In a game that was much closer than the final score, the visiting Dust Devils slapped the home team with five runs and then shut and locked the door in the eleventh.
With one out, Matt Batten set up the scoreboard when he walked, reached second on defensive interference by the catcher Tim Susnara and sprinted to third on a wild pitch by Matt Brill. Then the dam burst open.
Tre Carter tripled Batten home bringing Luis Castillo to the mound to relieve Matt Brill (L, 1-1). Castillo walked the next two batters to load the bases. Josh Magee sacrificed Carter home. All of that seemed small compared to the Robbie Podorsky three-run homer that followed. The Dust Devils batted around the order and scored five runs leaving the Hops with an unsurmountable deficit to regain.
Andres Munoz (W, 3-0) was the pitcher of record when the winning run was scored and received the win.
Up to that point, the Hops had laid back like a long-distance runner waiting for the finish line to come in sight. In the bottom of the eighth, the Hops scored two runs to tie the game and eventually sent it into overtime.
Jorge Perez opened the eighth with a line drive single to left and Ryan Dobson followed with a sacrifice bunt. With a little bit of luck, catcher Jalen Washington tried to throw cleanly to first baseman Bryant Aragon but Dobson crowded the play and the throw sailed past first base as both runners moved into scoring position. Dust Devil manager Ben Fritz instantly appeared to argue the call with home plate umpire Tanner Moore. Fritz may have had a case arguing that Dobson was in the field of play instead of the base path but all it got him was an ejection from the game.
Starting Tri City pitcher Ben Sheckler had lasted until this time on an economy of 75 pitches with 57 of them going for strikes. With the tying run on base and no outs, Evan Miller finished the inning allowing his two inherited runners to score on consecutive sacrifice flies.
The Hops fell behind quickly 2-0 in the second inning as their starting pitcher, Tyler Badamo, felt literally under attack in the early going. Robbie Podorsky reached first on a fielding error by first baseman Luis Lara after striking out to start the game and Justin Lopez singled to right. After a ground-out by Kelvin Meleon to the pitcher, Luis Asuncion stepped up to the plate with both runners in scoring position.
On an 0-2 count, Asuncion smacked a sharp line drive towards the mound. Through a combination of a quick reaction and the ball seemingly finding the glove on its own, Badamo reached behind him for a back-handed snag of the single up the middle. After a mild surprise of finding the ball in his glove, Badama started to throw to first but alertly found Podorsky off third. The RHP darted off the mound towards the exposed base runner and chased him back to third, throwing in time for third baseman Drew Ellis to tag the lead runner.
Badama pointed to Lopez who was midway between third and second, caught flat-footed watching the play. Ellis quickly chased down Lopez and tagged him out for an inning ending double play.
The night wasn’t over for the starting pitcher. Badama found another close play in the fourth when Luis Asuncion again stepped up to the plate. This time Luis didn’t give Badama time to react as he bounced a grounder off of the pitcher before Badamo could move his glove to field the hit. But, Asuncion was still not going to reach base as shortstop Ryan Dobson grabbed the rebound and quickly threw Asuncion out at first.
The loss dropped the Hillsboro Hops (16-15) to a one-game lead over the Eugene Emeralds with seven games left in the second half. The win helped the Tri City Dust Devils (18-13) maintain a first-place tie with the Vancouver Canadians atop the Northern Division.
The Dust Devils took the first game of the five-game series. Both teams return to Ron Tonkin Field Sunday for game two. Expected pitchers are LHP Aaron Leasher (0-0) for the Dust Devils and RHP Jhoan Duran (5-2) for the Hops.
By Greg Stoker