Ems Surge Late, Split Series

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 Hillsboro Hops

Ems Surge Late, Split Series

July 7, 2024 - Northwest League (NWL)
Hillsboro Hops News Release

EUGENE, Ore. - On the hottest day of the season so far, the Hillsboro Hops and Eugene Emeralds played another game that came right down to the wire.

One night after defeating the Hops (4-11 second half, 39-41 overall) on just two hits, the Emeralds (8-7, 41-39) put only two runners on base through the first six innings. But the back end of Hillsboro's bullpen failed to hold a slim lead and the Emeralds rallied for four runs in their final turns at bat to defeat the Hops 4-2 at P.K. Park Saturday.

Each team won its half of the split series two games to one. The Hops still hold a one game edge over Eugene in the season series.

With Jacob Steinmetz's scheduled start pushed back to next week, the Hops through the bullpen at Eugene. Alec Baker made his first pro start a good one, limiting the Ems to a pair of singles over four innings, striking out two without a walk in his longest pro outing. Listher Sosa and Landon Sims followed with perfect frames in the fifth and sixth.

The Hops capitalized on an error and wild pitch to score and unearned run in the fourth to take a 1-0 lead. Gavin Logan stole second base and advanced to third when catcher Thomas Gavello's throw went into center field. After Brett Johnson walked, Eugene pitcher Manuel Mercedes uncorked a wild pitch with Jean Walters at the plate, sending Logan homeward and Johnson to second. Walters ended the inning with a sharp liner that Giants #2 prospect Bryce Eldridge speared at first.

Still leading 1-0 in the seventh, Zane Russell started the inning well enough, blowing away the 6-foot-7 Eldridge on three pitches. But Diego Velasquez and Onil Perez followed with back-to-back singles. With runners at the corners, Cole Foster hit a hard ground ball to Lyle Lin, making his first Hops start of the season at first base. Lin, playing in, went to his knee to backhand the ball, but could only knock it down. Velasquez raced home on contact and Lin double-clutched before taking the ball to the bag at first for the sure out. Two more singles and another Eugene run followed and Russell departed after his second blown save of the week.

The Hops responded with a run in the top of the eighth. Johnson singled, stole second and reached third on a passed ball. After strikeouts of Walters and Jack Hurley, Eugene reliever Tommy Kane surrendered an RBI single through the shortstop hole to Gavin Conticello that tied the game at 2-2.

Trent Harris (6-3) came out of the Eugene pen to get the final out. In the bottom of the innings, the Emeralds wasted no time getting that run back and more. Yordin Chalas (1-5), Hillsboro's sixth pitcher of the night, allowed the first three runners to reach on a Justin Wishkoski single, a walk to Eldridge and a base hit for Velasquez that plated Wishkoski with the go-ahead run and sent Eldridge racing to third.

Onil Perez followed with a sacrifice fly for insurance, but Harris set down the Hops in order in the ninth to close out the win, bouncing back from losses in his last two appearances.

With six of their hits in the final two innings, the Emeralds outhit the Hops 8-7, paced by Velasquez's 3-for-4 day. The Hops hits were evenly distributed, with Tommy Troy reaching base three times on a single, walk and HBP.

The entire Northwest League takes Sunday and Monday off before returning to action on Tuesday. The Hops open a six-game home series against the Tri-City Dust Devils, starting at 7:05 p.m. All weeknight games can be heard on Rip City Radio 620 AM with pregame coverage beginning at 6:50 p.m.

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