Sixth Inning explosion Propels Hillsboro Hops over Dust Devils, 6-1
Sixth inning explosion broke up the serenity of a pitcher’s duel to stake a 6-1 lead. It turned out to be the final score as the Hillsboro Hops lifted off for the win over the Tri City Dust Devils, 6-1.
Quick Start Before 6th Inning Explosion
The game started with Carlos Herrera doubling off the second pitch of the game. From there, he scored four pitches later off of Kevin Maitan’s RBI single. That quickly, the Dust Devils led 1-0. Even though they held the lead until the fourth, it would be the last and only lead of the game.
Serenity Before Storm
After Herrera’s score, pitching took over. Hops starter Justin Vernia kept Tri City silent through the rest of his tenure. After 81 pitches and five innings, Vernia left the mound with the score tied 1-1. He allowed four more hits but they were spread out and two double plays helped eliminate the threats.
Some may dispute one of those hits, however. In the fourth, Kenyon Yovan led off with a double and was stranded at second for the rest of the inning. However, the double appeared to leave the yard and then come back. The ball bounced off the top yellow rail, bounced off the scoreboard set back from the fence and came back to the field in play. With the scoreboard being out of play, it should have been ruled a home run – not a double. Tri City manager Andy Schatzly came out to argue the call but to no avail. The run would have given the Dust Devils their second lead of the game.
Sixth Inning Explosion
None of that would have mattered though. In the sixth, the Hops exploded for five runs to take a 6-1 lead that would become the final score. The scoring binge chased Dust Devil starter Taylor Ahearn (L, 0-2) who had allowed only one run on four hits up to that point. That one run, a Spencer Brickhouse homer, went over the top of the towering blue monster in center field. Only the second time in seven years that I have seen that feat accomplished.
The first portion of the sixth inning led off with another Hops home run. This time by Eduardo Diaz, the night after his grand slam on Wednesday. Andy Yerzy came to the plate next and took his base after being hit by a pitch. That marked the end of Ahearn’s run on the mound.
Sixth Inning Explosion Brings Kyle Molnar to Mound
Kyle Molnar relieved Ahearn and allowed the next six batters to reach base. Andy Yerzy later scored on a wild pitch by Molnar. Tristin English walked and scored with newcomer Danny Oriende (doubled) off of Nick Dalesandro’s two-run single. Time for another pitching change. Luis Ramirez relieved Molnar and allowed Nick to score off of Cam Coursey’s RBI single
Cam Coursey came into the game at the top of the fifth to replace Roman Ruiz in the field and at the plate. In the previous inning, Ruiz was struck by a pitch that looked to bounce off of his left elbow. Trainer Damon Reel came out to check on him as Roman tried to shake it off. Ruiz managed to take his base and finish out the inning.
After the sixth, the relief corps for both sides took over and the serenity of a pitcher’s duel returned. Ramirez stayed in for another inning and Zac Kristofak combined to limit the Hops to one more hit. Eduardo Diaz singled but was erased when he was caught trying to steal second on a close play.
For the Hops, Nick Snyder (W, 2-4) and closer Justin Lewis also combined to limit their batters to one hit. This time a single by Kenyon Yovan.
The win helped the Hillsboro Hops (33-40) to gain another game on Everett who lost tonight. The Hops are now 15.5 games out of first. It also helped them rise into a tie with Vancouver for fourth place, one game behind third place Spokane. The loss dropped the Tri City Dust Devils to four and a half games behind Hillsboro but they remain 20 games below Everett.
Both teams meet again Friday night for a double header. The first game starts at 5:05 PM. The second game, a make-up of an earlier rain-out, will start 30 minutes after the first game ends. You can watch the games on MiLB.tv, listen on 620 AM radio or follow me on Twitter for half-inning updates. You can find my Twitter handle below.