Hillsboro Hops Rally Falls Short; SK Volcanoes Win, 8-6
It was back to the old ways after a close game the night before. The Salem-Keizer Volcanoes took most of the game to work up to an 8-0 lead only to wait out a six-run Hillsboro Hops comeback attempt that fell short. In the seventh inning, with a 4-0 lead, the Volcanoes added a burst of four runs that would be needed by the end of the game. They would come close to going around the order sending eight batters to the plate.
It was a good thing for the Volcanoes as the Hillsboro bats finally woke up and plastered six runs on the scoreboard in the bottom of the seventh. The Hops did them better by sending ten batters to the plate. It all started with a pitching change.
Starting the game for S-K, Jose Marte went a short three innings allowing one hit and striking out two. Heath Slatton followed with another three-inning stint allowing only one hit and striking out three. There was nothing the Hops bats could do except watch that eight run lead build over the first half of the game.
Then the pitching change. Cesar Yanez started the seventh walking newcomer Daulton Varsho. Kyle Smith doubled to center to give Hillsboro two runners in scoring position. Stephen Smith walked to load the bases. A wild pitch by Yanez scored Varsho. Gavin Stupienski singled scoring both Smiths, Kyle and Stephen. Billy Endris walked and Bryan Araiza singled to load the bases for the second time in the inning.
With the score now 8-3 and the potential tying run on deck, the Volcanoes relieved Cesar Yanez. The bases were loaded with no outs. In came Luis Pino to save the day – barely. Eudy Ramos singled to score Gavin Stupienski. Yan Sanchez grounded out to second for the first out but still scored Billy Endris. A wild pitch by Pino brought Bryan Araiza home. Facing the go-ahead run at the plate with one out, Pino struck out Paxton De La Garza and got Daulton Varsho, making his second appearance of the inning, to fly out to center.
Hillsboro would not manage another hit for the rest of the game and just one runner on base. The game ended after Bryan Araiza walked followed by a double play. The potential tying run, Eudy Ramos, lined a sharp line drive that couldn’t get past third baseman Richard Amion who snagged the fast dart and doubled Araiza off first. The hope of the crowd that awakened in the last few innings was suddenly gone, disappeared before the home crowd or the home team knew what happened.
Outside the seventh inning, the Hops managed only two more hits on the night. In the first, Yan Sanchez singled with two outs giving the false hope of more to come sooner rather than later. The Hops wouldn’t see their second hit until the sixth when Billy Endris singled to start the inning. It was only foreshadowing of the inning to come next.
Mitchell Aker (L, 0-2) started for the Hops going five and two thirds of an inning for the loss. For the first five innings, Aker allowed two runs on four hits while striking out seven. After retiring the first two batters of the sixth, Ryan Kirby and Manuel Geraldo singled.
That prompted Hillsboro to give Akers a well-deserved rest and bring Rafael Pujols to the mound in relief. The 6’7” Dominican native stood ready to keep his team in the game. Pujols inherited Aker’s two runners. Richard Amion singled home Ryan Kirby. Manuel Geraldo scored on a wild pitch. Starting pitcher was now on the hook for four runs.
The biggest damage came in the next inning. With the bases loaded and two outs, Yan Sanchez had difficulty finding Ryan Kirby’s rocket launch of a pop fly in the late afternoon sun. What proved to be the winning run came across the plate when all three base runners scored. Kirby would then come home on Manuel Geraldo’s double for an insurance run. All four runs were unearned. Heath Slatton (W, 1-0) was the pitcher of note for the win. Kendry Melo (S, 1) pitched the ninth to earn the save.
The Hillsboro Hops (4-4) remains in a tie with the Boise Hawks as both team lost. The Salem-Keizer Volcanoes climbed to within one game behind the division leaders. S-K won the three-game series 2-1.
The Volcanoes will travel to Eugene for a three-game series that will be on MiLB.tv. The Hops remain home for another three-game series, this time with the Boise Hawks, the team they remain tied with for the lead.
by Greg Stoker