Hops down Hawks in postseason debut
It was a historic day for the Hops. Fresh off an eight-hour, 450-mile bus ride, Hillsboro was ready to make their postseason debut at Memorial Stadium in Boise, Idaho against the Boise Hawks.
They made it a memorable one, pulling out a 5-2 victory to take game one of the Divisional Series. It was their fifth consecutive victory going back to regular season play.
Felipe Perez started for the Hops and was effective but inefficient. He battled through four innings, allowing two runs (one earned), walking one, and striking out four.
His opponent for Boise, starter Jake Stinnett, was a worthy one. The 2014 second-round draft selection confused Hops hitters all night with a deadly arsenal, allowing just one unearned run over five innings while striking out eight.
The unearned run came in the first. Hops centerfielder Taylor Ratliff led off with a double, and moved to third on a Steve Nyisztor single. With Kevin Cron at the dish, Stinnett tried to pick off a pesky Nyisztor, and first baseman Alex Tomasovich couldn’t handle the throw, allowing Ratliff to scamper home from third. Tomasovich’s error was the first of four the Hawks would make.
Boise tied the game in the bottom of the third on a solo home run off the bat of Tomasovich, and took a 2-1 lead in the fourth on a Perez wild pitch, compounded by a Stryker Trahan throwing error.
Stinnett settled in and shined after the shaky start. He didn’t allow another hit the rest of the way, and the Hops couldn’t wait to see a new pitcher on the hill. In came reliever Brad Markey, who was greeted with a single by Ratliff, the second of his three hits on the night. As is often the case when Ratliff reaches base, he swiped second and scored on another Nyisztor single. After a Cron pop-out, Grant Heyman reached base on an error by Bryant Flete. Boise brought in reliever Sam Wilson to face Trahan, who grounded into a force play, leaving runners on the corners with two outs.
Manager J.R. House went into his bag of tricks and pulled out his favorite one. With Jordan Parr batting, Trahan broke for second and Nyisztor broke for home. Boise catcher Danny Canela, in just his fifth game behind the plate this season, tried to nab Nyisztor who had broken for home too early. Perhaps a bit overanxious, Canela’s throw went into left field-yet another Boise error-and Nyisztor waltzed home to make it 3-2.
Hillsboro added another run in the next inning after Stewart Ijames led off with a single and moved to second on a Pedro Ruiz sacrifice bunt. Ratliff followed with his third hit of the night, a single to left to score Ijames and push the Hop lead to 4-2.
Rob Wort threw perfect seventh and eighth innings, and Ijames hit a solo home run in the top of the ninth to give lockdown closer Zac Curtis a cushy 5-2 lead in the bottom of the ninth. Curtis provided no drama, striking out the side in a 1-2-3 inning to give the Hops a 1-0 series lead.
Game two is tomorrow night at Ron Tonkin Field in Hillsboro. First pitch is at 7:05 PM. Game three, should it be necessary, would also be in Hillsboro at 7:05 on September 4. Playoff tickets still available at www.hillsborohops.com. Pre-game show begins tomorrow night at 6:35 PM on Rip City Radio 620 AM and at www.foxsportsradio620.com.