Hillsboro Hops, Daulton Varsho Outlast Everett Aquasox 5-4
The Hillsboro Hops built a 5-0 lead and outlasted the Everett Aquasox’s near comeback for the 5-4 win. What started out as a pitchers’ duel turned into the classic definition of small ball with the game going down to the very last pitch.
The Hops drew first blood in the sixth when Tra’Mayne Holmes singled, stole second and came home on Billy Endris’ RBI single. Another run was added by Bryan Araiza who singled home Endris.
Sitting close with a 2-0 edge, the Hops were able to take advantage of the pitching change in the seventh inning. Ted Hammond replaced starter Ryne Inman for the Aquasox. With runners on first and second and one out, catcher Daulton Varsho whacked a double to left field down the line. It “felt good when it came off the bat”, said Varsho. I “knew it was a line drive when it left the bat and good things can happen with a line drive.” This time, good things did happen. Eudy Ramos and Pavin Smith were able to scoot around the bases and score while left fielder Greife Andrade dug the ball out of the corner. Standing at second was Varsho who later admitted, “I could have taken third. That’s what the coach told me” after the inning. Varsho stole third so he ended up there one way or another. He came home on Camden’s Duzenack’s ground out.
Daulton Varsho’s score turned out to be the winning run for the game. At the time, the three runs giving a 5-0 lead seemed to be insurance runs. But, they are called insurance runs for a reason. They needed all of them as the Aquasox stormed back in the top of the eighth with four runs of their own.
Before the inning was over, Erbert Gonzales (S, 2) was called to the mound to protect the lead. He stayed the rest of the game. First, he struck out Onil Pena to get out of the eighth. Then Gonzalez took the mound in the ninth with a one run lead and struck out three more batters for the save. But not before a single and a fielding error put two runners on base and the go ahead run on first.
Daulton Varsho also had a supporting role for the other reason the Hops won the game. “Before the game, we get together and go over the line up and any strategy.” Both he and starting pitcher Connor Grey (W, 2-1) sat down and did just that. Connor took the mound and blanked the Aquasox for seven scoreless innings allowing three hits and striking out five. He pitched through those seven innings on an economy pf 73 pitches, two-thirds of them were strikes. Connor left the mound with a 5-0 lead to the crowd’s applause..
The win kept the Hillsboro Hops (8-8) two games behind division leader Eugene Emeralds. The Everett Aquasox (7-9) remain three games behind their division leaders in the north. Both teams return to Ron Tonkin Field for game three. The Hops lead the five-game homestand 2-0.
Hops notes: The game featured the debut of Drew Ellis. His addition put three of the top 68 draft picks in the same line up. It is believed to be a first for any minor league team.
Team Images by Craig Mitchelldyer-Hillsboro Hops
by Greg Stoker