Will Wilson Triple, Eugene Emeralds Leave Hops Behind, 8-2
Will Wilson and his triple will be marked in the record books as the go ahead run. It gave the Eugene Emeralds the lead for good and they never looked back as they beat the Hillsboro Hops 8-2.
Big Inning Returns
It may have been Wilson’s triple in the fifth inning that gave themselves the lead but it was the eighth inning eruption that put the game out of reach. The big inning bugaboo that plagued the Hops in their 0-6 series sweep by the Emeralds two weeks ago vanished. A three game winning streak against the Spokane Indians last week boosted the Hops confidence though there were still some kinks to work out.
But, it looked like the Hops were well on their way back to their winning ways or at least heading in the right direction. Until the eighth inning. The culprit this time didn’t appear from the plate. The only hit the Ems managed in the explosive inning was Ismael Munguia’s two-RBI single but it was six batters and four runs into the inning. What caused the damage up to that point?
Walk – Don’t Run
The most common culprit appeared to be the walk. Three of the first five batters walked to first. Throw in a lead-off hit-by-batter and that is four free base runners to start the inning. It turned out to be enough to load the bases twice. Or at least a refill. When the fourth batter, Franklin Labour stepped to the plate, the bases were loaded and primed for his sac fly to score Sean Roby.
Then Brandon Martorano walked to refill the bases. Now the bases were primed for Munguia’s run scoring single. That was the final blow that chased Julio Frias from the mound. Kai-Wei Lin, who was set to be the Hops’ closer in the next inning, came in early. Already facing a runner on third with one out, Lin found some magical luck.
Will Wilson Short Home Run of Cycle
Will Wilson, the man who had already hit a go ahead triple, a ground-rule double and a single, came looking for a potential home run to complete the cycle. On the second pitch, Wilson sent a hard hit line drive into the Hops short stop Blaze Alexander’s mitt. Munguia, on third, had sprinted towards home at the start of the pitch and was now caught off base. A quick-thinking reaction from Blaze to third baseman Tristin English turned a double play and got the Hops out of the inning.
The damage was done. A 4-2 lead grew into an 8-2 lead. The Hops didn’t give up. But, their shoulders slumped a bit knowing how difficult the task was before them. The bottom of the ninth started with a Dom Canzone single to get the party started. Ironically, the next pitch turned into a 4-6-3 double play, one of four by both teams in the game.
Pitching Hot Start
The starting pitching gave some foreshadowing. Ems starter Solomon Bates started off with a fine strike-out-the-side first inning but ended soon with a two-run third chasing him from the mound and the Hops tying the game. The Hops starter, Conor Grammes left for an apparent different reason. Grammes left the mound in the second inning with the Hops’ trainer Damon Reel at his side. He was in the middle of a pitch count with Ems’ Sean Roby. No word on what the problem might have been.
The Ems’ relief turned out to be just one man. Nick Avila (W, 4-5) started the fourth and completed the rest of the game. Avila threw 72 pitches over six innings giving up three hits and no runs. It was enough for the win.
On the other hand, The Hops relief turned out to be four different men. First came Wesley Rodriguez (L, 1-1) giving up one run on three hits, taking the Hops to the end of the fifth. Unfortunately, that also made Rodriguez the pitcher of record for the loss. Newcomer Ty Jones pitched through two innings of one-run, three hit ball. Then, Frias and Lin finished off the relief.
The win kept the Eugene Emeralds (31-17) afloat on top of the league a half game ahead of Everett. On the other hand, the loss dropped the Hillsboro Hops (19-28) down to eleven and a half games below Eugene. The two teams meet for game#2 Wednesday at 1:05 PM. Note that it is an afternoon game.
Meanwhile, my latest look back, week#8, went up Tuesday morning. Check it out.