Hillsboro Hops, Daulton Varsho Triple Down on Eugene Emeralds, 6-5
The Hillsboro Hops evened up the three-game series with the Eugene Emeralds, 6-5, in a walk-off inning that kept the fans on the edge of their seats. Daulton Varsho led off the bottom of the ninth with a triple to the center-right field gap that took both outfielders to the warning track.
“It was electric” Daulton Varsho said about standing at third with Tra Holmes coming up to bat. “Tra had a good at bat”. Holmes worked opposing pitcher Yapson Gomez to a full count with Varsho waiting 90 feet away and the end of the game feeling near. That electric feeling Daulton had kept him ready when Gomez uncorked a wild pitch that escaped catcher Miguel Amaya and fled to the backstop. That window of opportunity was enough to allow Daulton to rush home as the crowd’s cheers grew louder as he neared home plate. The crowd erupted when Varsho touched down.
The Hops struck first in the opening inning but it was the Emeralds who took a 4-1 lead by the third inning. Austin Filiere smacked a third consecutive double to clear the bases of Gustavo Polanco and Brandon Hughes for the initial lead to start off the second. The Emeralds doubled that in the following inning when Miguel Amaya homered over the left field fence with Zach Davis on board.
That set up the bottom of the fifth for Hillsboro. With one out, Ryan Grotjohn pinch hit for shortstop Yan Sanchez and walked to first. Ryan moved to second on a Bryan Araiza groundout and to third on a wild pitch by pitcher Enrique De Los Rios. Pavin Smith singled Grotjohn home.
Just needing one more out to get out of the inning, De Los Rios walked Drew Ellis to load the bases. Up to the plate came Daulton Varsho. “I was looking for a fastball and got a good pitch.” Said Daulton of the 2-1 pitch. Daulton launched it near the right field corner for his first triple of the night. “It felt great.” He said of the contact with the ball. The bases were cleared and the game was tied.
A succession of four pitchers for Hillsboro and three for Eugene kept the game tight and scoreless until the bottom of the ninth when the game ended with the scamper to home plate. Erbert Gonzales (W, 1-1) was the Hops pitcher of record when the winning run crossed the plate for the win. Yapson Gomez (L, 3-1) allowed the winning score for the loss.
The night was filled with extra base hits all night. The Hops struck for nine hits that included three doubles, two triples and one homer. Yan Sanchez led off the Hops bats with a solo shot in the team’s first at bat of the night. The Emeralds smacked five doubles and a home run for six of their eight hits. The eight doubles for both teams came in all shapes and sizes. From ground rule doubles to tricky bounces when Drew Ellis’ fourth inning double hit the bag and bounced over third baseman Austin Filiere into left field. Brandon Hughes’ pop fly in the third dropped between left fielder Connor Owings, center fielder Tra Holmes and second baseman Camden Duzenack for a double.
The win lifted the Hillsboro Hops into a three-way tie with the Eugene Emeralds and Boise Hawks for the Southern Division lead. Both teams meet for the third and final game of the homestand on Friday. Expected starters are RHP Tyler Keele (2-1) for the Hops and RHP Matt Swarmer (2-0) for the Emeralds.
Hops notes: Outfielder Stephen Smith was elevated to the Kane County Cougars on Thursday. Smith appeared in 16 games for the Hops scoring nine runs on twelve hits. Stephen also appeared in 37 games for the Hops in 2016.
By Greg Stoker