Hillsboro Hops, Cole Thompson Storm Back to Down Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, 7-6
It was a night of many firsts in the young season for the Hillsboro Hops. It was the first comeback victory as well as the first extra innings game as the Hops came from six runs down to defeat the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes 7-6 in twelve innings. With two outs in the bottom of the twelfth and Paxton De La Garza on second, Domingo Leyba delivered a walk off single into left field to bring home the winning run.
It was also the first time a Hops player took the field with previous major league experience. Matt Koch, who debuted for the Arizona DIamondbacks last September, took the mound as the starter for the home opener of the 2017 season. Down for a rehab assignment, Koch was hit hard and early before settling in. The first batter, Volcanoes center fielder Malique Ziegler, sent a shot over the left field fence. He was followed by three consecutive singles that also scored a run giving Salem-Keizer an early 2-0 lead.
Matt Koch was tapped again in the third helped by a couple of errors on the part of the Hops. Third baseman Eudy Ramos let a grounder slip under his glove and into left field allowing Malique Ziegler to score from third. Koch, who showed a fine pick off move in the first catching Juan Rodriguez off second base, threw high when attempting to pick off Rodriguez again, this time on first. Rodriguez moved to third as the attempt caromed into right field. Ryan Kirby then doubled bringing home Rodriguez.
The top of the fourth would be the final bleeding. Three consecutive singles scored Manuel Geraldo. The second run of the inning came after a misplay that could have easily been considered a mental error on the field if not in the score book.
On a fielder’s choice, catcher Cole Thompson picked up a short grounder in front of the plate. Instead of throwing the batter out, Thompson realized he had Dylan Manwaring caught between third and home trying to sneak in for a score. Thompson chased him back to third and tossed to third baseman Eudy Ramos. When the runner turned to go home, Ramos looked to throw home but saw no one covering. Pitcher Koch came rushing in to cover but Ramos looked away and did not complete the throw.
Frustration started to boil over as the 6-0 score was looming over the home team. Up to that point, the Hops had managed only a Stephen Smith single in the second. Kyle Smith stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the fourth with Brian Araiza on first and cranked a two-run blast over the left field fence. That frustration may have been just what the doctor ordered.
The scoring woke up the Hops bats and the Volcano bats were done for the night though no one knew it yet. In the seventh, The Hops erupted all over the Volcanoes for four more runs, tying the game. Yan Sanchez doubled with the bases loaded scoring Cole Thompson and Domingo Leyba. Brian Araiza singled to bring home Eudy Ramos.
With the score now 6-5, Matt Pope was brought on in relief. It did not help as catcher Rene Melendez allowed a passed ball to let Yan Sanchez to score the tying run.
After twelve runs scored by both teams in the first seven innings, the bats fell silent for the next four. It wouldn’t be until the bottom of the twelfth and with two outs that another runner would cross the plate to end the game.
Hops catcher Cole Thompson showed an amazing presence on the field and at the plate. He threw out three runners attempting to steal and caught Jeffry Parra off second. Jumping out to chase the runner down, Thompson kept the runner guessing by holding onto the ball until Parra would commit to either base. By then, it was too late. Thompson was already near the base path when Parra tried to dive for second. Cole tossed it into the waiting glove of second baseman Yan Sanchez for the tag.
Cole Thompson also showed a presence at the plate going 3 for 6 with a double and a run scored. Kyle Smith’s two-run homer helped ignite the Hops bats with their first scoring of the game. Yan Sanchez continued his dependable batting with a double, two walks and two RBI.
The Volcano bats were led by Malique Ziegler’s solo homer in the first and going 3 for 6 at the plate. Ryan Kirby went 2 for 4 with two RBIs.
Matt Koch’s Hops debut was rocked through the first five innings striking out four but allowing five earned runs. Without the performance of Pierce Romero, Erbert Gonzalez and Cody Clark shutting down the Volcano bats the rest of the way, the game would have been over. Over seven scoreless innings with only two hits, all the Volcanoes could do was watch the Hops storm back and take the game. Clark (W, 1-0) appeared in the tenth through twelfth to earn the victory.
Starter Alex Bostic kept the Hops under control until the fourth when the Hops woke up. John Timmins (L, 0-2), came on for the twelfth for the loss.
The Hillsboro Hops (4-2) kept a one-game lead over the Boise Hawks for the Southern Division lead. The Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (1-5) fell to three games behind the Hops.
Both teams return to Ron Tonkin Field for the second game of the three game homestand on Wednesday.
Hops notes: Gavin Stupienski was promoted to the Hops from the Missoula Osprey. He is a 2016 draft choice who played four games for the Hops last year. He becomes the third catcher for the team.
Photos by Craig Mitchelldyer-Hillsboro Hops
By Greg Stoker