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Big Inning Burns Hops In Series Opener

C's score 6 in 7th to spoil another great Diaz outing as Hops fall 6-3
August 31, 2023

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Yilber Diaz can't seem to buy a break this year. A top-30 prospect in the Diamondbacks organization, the young Venezuelan right hander went into last night's series opener at Nat Bailey Stadium in Vancouver as the Northwest League's leader in losses. Diaz pitched brilliantly over 5 2/3

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Yilber Diaz can't seem to buy a break this year.

A top-30 prospect in the Diamondbacks organization, the young Venezuelan right hander went into last night's series opener at Nat Bailey Stadium in Vancouver as the Northwest League's leader in losses. Diaz pitched brilliantly over 5 2/3 shutout innings, but the Hillsboro bullpen could not hold the lead as Vancouver plated six runs in the seventh inning on the way to a 6-3 win over the Hops Wednesday night.

Diaz departed with two outs in the sixth inning having allowed just one hit out of the infield with nine strikeouts and three walks. Billy Corcoran threw one pitch to get the final out, then came back out to pitch the seventh and disaster struck.

Vancouver sent 11 men to the plate and turned a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 lead in the blink of an eye. Former Oregon Duck Josh Kasevich doubled to the left field corner to lead off. After a walk to Garrett Spain, Gabriel Martinez jumped on the first pitch from Corcoran and sent a rocket over the left field wall for a three-run home run to give Vancouver the lead. Two more extra base hits and a walk later, Corcoran was out of the game, but the damage was done. All six Vancouver runs were charged to the 6-8 righty in his worst outing as a Hop at the venue where he made his Hillsboro debut in a starting role in June.

The Hops had a potential big rally underway in the top half of the seventh before the Vancouver outburst, but a pair of highly questionable calls limited them to a single run. The Hops scored their first run in the fifth off Vancouver starter Adam Macko, who was with Diaz pitch for pitch on this night, allowing a run on one hit over five innings with seven strikeouts and three walks. A leadoff walk to Christian Cerda in the fifth, followed by a pair of wild pitches allowed the Hops catcher to scoot home to break the scoreless deadlock.

Ryan Boyer pitched a 1-2-3 sixth, then the first two Hops reached base off Vancouver lefty Naswell Paulino in the seventh when Groover reached on an infield hit up the middle and Cerda walked. With nobody out, Junior Franco lifted a pop fly to the right side. Cerda, scrambling to get back to the bag at first, momentarily impeded the first baseman Williams, who was able to work his way around the Hops catcher to make the catch with little effort. However, the umpires ruled Cerda out for interference, going against conventional wisdom which says there should be no penalty assessed on such a play if no advantage is gained by the offensive team. Neither runner advanced on the play and there was no chance for a double play conventionally.

After an argument with the home plate umpire Robert Ginter III, Hops manager Ronnie Gajownik returned to her post in time to wave Hillsboro newcomer Gavin Conticello toward third base after he roped a base hit into the right field corner on the next pitch. Groover scored from second on the play and Conticello clearly appeared to slide in ahead of the tag of Cade Doughty at third base for a triple, but was ruled out by the base umpire. Gajownik immediately went nose-to-nose with Nelson Fraley in one of the most spirited rhubarbs of her Hillsboro tenure. The outburst was brief and the Hillsboro rally was over. The 2-0 lead wasn't long for this world.

The Hops again had Vancouver on the ropes in the eighth, loading the bases against lefty Nas Paulino, then scoring a run when Connor Larkin came out of the pen and threw a wild pitch to plate Manuel Pena. A walk to Groover reloaded the bases and brought Cerda to the plate representing the go-ahead run. Having already walked twice, the league leader in walk rate worked the count to 3-1 before taking a strike and swinging through a Larkin fastball to end the threat.

The former Penn State righty retired the side with two more K's in the ninth to card his third save of the season, making a winner out of Paulino, who allowed three hit and two runs with a strikeout and two walks over 1 2/3 shaky innings.

In addition to his go-ahead home run, Martinez made a spectacular defensive play in the first inning, slamming into the wall in foul territory to catch a Groover foul ball deep in left field before throwing back to second base to double off Andrew Pintar, who had led off the game with a double off the right field wall, his sixth consecutive extra-base hit. Pintar finished with two hits and has now hit in 13 of the Hops' last 14 games after a 3-for-45 start in Hillsboro.

Kasevich led the Vancouver attack wtih three hits and an RBI. Doughty had a pair of hits, including a 2-RBI double.

Tuesday's rained out game will be made up as the first game of a 5:05 p.m. doubleheader Thursday night. Pregame airtime will be at 4:50 p.m. The game will be available online only for the first hour on hillsborohops.com or Rip City Radio 620's alternate web stream. Live radio coverage will begin following the conclusion of Rip City Drive at 6:00 p.m.