EVERETT, WASH. (June 1, 2023) --- Just when it looked as though the Hillsboro Hops had given the game away, they took it back. And just when it looked like they were going to give it away again, they slammed the door… and somehow, the Hops escaped with a 13-12
EVERETT, WASH. (June 1, 2023) --- Just when it looked as though the Hillsboro Hops had given the game away, they took it back. And just when it looked like they were going to give it away again, they slammed the door… and somehow, the Hops escaped with a 13-12 win over the Everett Aquasox on Thursday night at Everett Memorial Stadium.
Hillsboro led 11-6 entering the bottom of the eighth inning, when Hops reliever Junior Mieses suddenly lost all command. After recording the first out of the inning, he walked three batters in succession (including the eighth and ninth batters in the order) without throwing a strike, and was lifted in favor of Zach Barnes. Ben Ramirez singled home two, and Alberto Rodriguez --- who already had a pair of two-run homers in the game --- doubled home another to make it 11-9. Barnes struck out James Parker, but a wild pitch with Walking Cabrera batting made it 11-10 and sent the tying run to third. Cabrera walked, and Axel Sanchez singled to bring home Rodriguez and tie the game.
Then, with a 1-1 count on Charlie Welch and runners at first and third, Sanchez broke for second. Welch swung and missed, and Hops catcher J.J. D’Orazio made the wrong decision to throw to second, allowing Cabrera to score the go-ahead run on the back end of the double steal. Welch struck out on the next pitch, but six runs were home and Everett led 12-11.
The Hops left the field looking stunned, and when Everett left-hander Peyton Alford struck out Jesus Valdez and S.P. Chen to start the ninth, they seemed dead.
Gavin Logan fell behind 0-2, but the Hops catcher --- playing first base for the second time this season --- kept battling. He took a ball, fouled off a pitch, and then took another ball. And on a 2-2 pitch, he ripped an opposite-field single into left. That brought up Brett Johnson. He worked the count to 2-1, then sliced an opposite-field double into the left-field corner, scoring Logan from first with the tying run.
Wilderd Patino fell behind 0-2, but after ball one went to the backstop, sending Johnson to third, Patino bounded a base hit through the right side --- Hillsboro’s third consecutive two-out hit --- to bring home Johnson and make it 13-12.
Listher Sosa, one of the Hops’ more reliable relievers, came out of the bullpen for the bottom of the ninth, and when the bottom two hitters in the batting order, Mike Salvatore and Blake Rambusch, both singled, things again looked bleak.
But Sosa appeared unbothered. With the tying run at second and the winning run at first, Sosa retired leadoff man Harry Ford on a foul out to first on a running catch by Logan. Ramirez, who had already knocked in three runs with a pair of singles, went after a 2-2 high fastball and struck out.
That brought up Rodriguez, with three extra-base hits and five runs batted in already to his credit. The Hops elected to go right after him rather than pitch around him and potentially send the winning run into scoring position. And on a 3-1 pitch, Sosa won the battle, inducing Rodriguez to pop out to second baseman Chen and end the game.
The Hops had built a 2-0 lead after two and a half innings on an RBI single by Chen and a solo home run from D’Orazio. Everett, though, came back with four runs (three earned) against Hops starter Dylan Ray in the bottom of the third, highlighted by Rodriguez’s first two-run homer of the night.
Hillsboro responded with three of their own in the top of the fourth to forge a 5-4 lead. Chen hit a two-run home run, and Johnson had a gift pop double and scored on a wild pitch and an error.
But again, the Hops couldn’t hang onto the lead. In the bottom of the fourth, Rodriguez went deep for the second time, a mammoth two-run shot off Eli Saul that cleared the back wall in right field, and Everett led 6-5.
Now, it was Hillsboro’s turn to respond. In the top of the sixth, Everett’s Sam Carlson retired the first two batters he faced, but walked Logan. Johnson followed with a line-drive single to left-center, and Patino walked to load the bases. That brought up Jonathan Guzman, just off the Double-A Amarillo injured list and transferred back to the Hops, where he had begun the season. Playing in his first game since May 6th, and his first game with Hillsboro since April 19th, Guzman lofted a drive over the short porch in right-center. It was the Hops’ second grand slam of the season, and it put them up 9-6.
And when Hillsboro added a pair of unearned runs in the 7th inning as Everett committed the fourth of their five errors in the game, the lead looked somewhat comfortable at 11-6. Or, at least, as comfortable as a five-run lead could be in the best hitters’ park in the Northwest League.
It marked the second time in the series the Hops won a game in which they walked double-digit Everett batters (10 Thursday, and 11 in an 8-4 win on Monday). The two teams combined to draw 18 bases on balls.
There was also one free pass via hit batter, as Everett first baseman Tyler Locklear was struck in the right arm or hand by a Mieses fastball in the seventh inning. Locklear had to leave the game.
Hillsboro (20-28) remains 6.5 games out with three weeks remaining in the first-half playoff race. Everett (24-24) is in a three-way tie for third, 2.5 games out.
The series continues on Friday night at 7:05, with the radio broadcast beginning at 6:50PM on Rip City Radio 620AM and online at www.RipCityRadio.com.