Blaze Alexander 3-run homer, Hillsboro Hops Outlast Dust Devils 9-7
Blaze Alexander three-run homer turned out to be the final blow in the slugfest between the Hillsboro Hops and the Tri City Dust Devils. Blasted in the top of the ninth, combined with Yaramil Hiraldo’s save in the bottom, the three run shot was enough to stop the Dust Devils 9-7.
Yaramil Hiraldo’s Knock-out Punch
Recently returned from the injured list, Yaramil Hiraldo (S, 2) picked up where he left off from the beginning of the season. As a knock-out closer, Yaramil smothered the Dust Devils by striking out the side in the bottom of the ninth. The hometown bats made him work for it by forcing him to extend 16 pitches across the plate but Yaramil was easily up to the task.
Compared to the backdrop of what went before, 16 runs on 16 hits for both teams total, Yaramil’s 1-2-3 strikeout of Tri City stood in stark contrast and underscored Yaramil’s ability as a closer in this game. Even more, the three batters he faced were the meat of the Tri City order: #3 batter Jordyn Adams, #4 Francisco Del Valle and #5 Adrian Rondon.
Previously, Adams and Rondon both had two RBI doubles. Del Valle singled and scored in the third inning. But, none of that was a guarantee against Yaramil.
Blaze Alexander Wins the Day
But, Yaramil’s mastery in the final inning would have gone for naught if he didn’t have a lead to protect. That lead came from the bat of Blaze Alexander. Down by one coming into the last chance ninth inning, the Hops came for a fight. With two outs already in the books and down to their last out, the Hops got to work.
Tristin English and Andy Yerzy both walked to put the tying run into scoring position. The go ahead run on first waited for a chance to win the game. In a strategic move, manager Vince Harrison switched pinch runners Reece Hampton and Nick Dalesandro, both speedy base stealers, in for English and Yerzy. Nick had already impressed fans with an inside the park home run earlier in the season and was the co-leader in stolen bases with 18. Reece had previously stolen 13 bases.
Blaze Alexander Needed One Pitch
Time for a pitching change. Pitcher Luis Ramirez (L, 4-1) had pitched no run/no hit ball up to that point. But he was responsible for the two base runners he walked. On came Chad Sykes to the mound for the Dust Devils. Up to the plate stepped Blaze Alexander for the Hops. All of that speed on the bases, while nice to have, wasn’t needed. Blaze sent his first pitch from Sykes over the left field fence for the final score of 9-7. With three more outs to go, all they needed was someone like Yaramil to come in and close out the game.
Blaze Alexander, Dom Canzone Kept Hops in Play
With nine Hops runs scored in the game, it took more than one batter for the Hops to come out the winner tonight. While Blaze can take responsibility for four of those runs (he previously singled and scored in the seventh), there were others that can share the credit. Cam Coursey singled and scored in the fifth. He also walked and scored in the seventh.
But, right behind Alexander in that department was Dom Canzone. Dom took responsibility for three more runs in the game. In going 3 for 5, Dom smacked the first Hops homer in the fifth with Coursey already on board. Dom also doubled and scored in the seventh.
In addition to Yaramil’s save in the ninth, reliever Mailon Arroyo (W, 1-0) limited the Dust Devils for almost two innings to earn his first Hops’ win of the season.
On a night where all of the victors were the road team, the Hillsboro Hops (23-31) maintained their twelve game deficit behind league leading Everett. They also remain two games behind the team above them, Spokane. However, they did gain on their next week’s opponent, Vancouver and are now only four games behind. The loss dropped the Tri City Dust Devils (19-36) to 16.5 games behind Everett and four and a half behind the Hops.
Both teams meet again Thursday night for game three in the series. You can catch it on 620 AM radio. The Hops evened it up to 1-1 tonight. In the meantime, read more about the strategic Vince Harrison in this preseason look at the Hops’ new manager.