Tri-City Dust Devils Bats Knock Out Hillsboro Hops, 10-3
The lead changed twice with two of the top Northwest League teams battling each other on a hot sweltering evening before the Tri-City Dust Devils delivered the knockout blow to the Hillsboro Hops, 10-3. For the second night in a row, the two starting pitchers would control their respective sides of the innings yet they would get neither a win or a loss as the game was decided in the later innings.
The Hops scored twice in the second inning to take the early lead. Trevor Mitsui singled up the middle followed by Nate Irving poking a single through the hole in the left infield. Gerard Hernandez grounded out to third baseman Carlos Belen who forced out the Irving at second. Irving came in sliding with full force taking out second baseman Kodie Tidwell. There was no throw to first for the double play leaving Mitsui at third. Nate Robertson hit the long ball to the right center field gap and to the warning track scoring both Mitsui and Hernandez.
An insurance run was added in the next inning but it would not be enough. Instead it would be their last score. Luis Veras made it to first on a fielding error by first baseman Ty France who had trouble digging the grounder out of the dirt in time to make the play. Trevor Mitsui walked on a full count. Nate Irving hit his second single of the night (he would have three) scoring Veras from second.
The Dust Devils answered with two monster innings in the sixth and eighth. For the sixth, Peter Van Gansen started it off with a single to left. Ty France hit a hard grounder to third baseman Nate Robertson that bounced off his glove and into left field for an error. Carlos Belen singled up the middle to score Gansen and put runners at the corners.
It was time for relief. Troy Marks came in for starter Tyler Bolton who had kept the Dust Devils scoreless until this inning. Marks’ first batter, Jose Carlos Urena poked a single into right field scoring France as Belen moved to second. Mason Smith was hit by a pitch to load the bases. AJ Kennedy lined to left center scoring both Belen and Urena. The Dust Devils batted around the order and took the lead 4-3.
Two innings later, the sixth inning would seem like a series of jabs compared to the knockout blow delivered by the Dust Devils. The Hops helped with three walks, two wild pitches and a batter hit by a pitch in the inning. With one out, AJ Kennedy walked on a full count. Kodie Tidwell followed with another full count walk. Rod Boykin hit a hard and fast grounder to short stop Sergio Alcantara who made an acrobatic back-handed stab to keep it from going to the outfield. It would leave him with no throw to first and the bases loaded. Peter Van Gansen singled up the middle scoring Kennedy. Ty France walked forcing Tidwell home for another score.
The Dust Devils had chased another pitcher. Lawrence Pardo came in to relieve Ariel Hernandez. Carlos Belen sacrificed to left scoring Boykin. With Jose Carlos Urena at the plate, a wild pitch by Pardo allowed both runners to advance to scoring position. Before Urena could finish his plate appearance, Pardo delivered another wild pitch scoring Gansen and moving France to third. Urena walked to put runners at the corners. Mason Smith hit a hard line drive down the third base line and into the corner scoring both runners. By the time the inning was over, the Dust Devils had batted around the order again sending eleven batters to the plate and scored six runs to make it 10-3.
Troy Marks (0-1) pitched the sixth inning for the Hops and the loss allowing one run on two hits and struck out one.
Elvin Liriano (3-0) pitched the sixth and seventh innings for the Dust Devils and earned the win allowing no runs on one hit and struck out three. Wilson Santon (S-1) pitched the eighth and ninth. Santon allowed only one hit for the save.
The Dust Devils had offense scattered up and down the line up. Jose Carlos Urena went 3 for 4 scoring two runs with a double and a RBI. Ty France went 2 for 3 scoring twice and an RBI. Peter Van Gansen went 2 for 4 scoring two runs and an RBI.
Nate Irving was solid for the Hops going 3 for 4 with an RBI. Trevor Mitsui went 1 for 3 and scored a run. Galli Cribbs also went 1 for 3.
The Tri-City Dust Devils (2-2) climbed into a tie with Everett for first place in the North Division. The Hillsboro Hops (2-2) fell one game out of first place behind Eugene and Salem-Keizer in the South Division. Both teams will meet again Friday night for the third game of the five game series. The series is tied at 1-1.
Game note: Jose Queliz, catcher for the Hops, was promoted two levels to the Advanced-A team Visalia Rawhide as an injury replacement.
By Greg Stoker