After a series-ending 8-3 loss to Eugene June 28, the Hillsboro Hops rebounded from a three-game sweep by the defending Northwest League champions the best way possible — with a winning streak of their own.
The Hops returned home for a five-game home stand versus the Everett Aqua Sox and dropped the last of the five-game set. But before that, the hometown Hops managed to win four straight, get two games over .500 and pull to within a game of the league-leading Eugene Emeralds.
Over that stretch, third baseman Eudy Ramos managed five hits, drove in two runs and scored three of his own. Rookie and first round draft choice Pavin Smith continues to get comfortable at the professional level, hitting .308 with two RBIs and four runs scored in the last three games prior to Monday's lopsided defeat. Meanwhile on the mound, the Hops got strong performances from starters Jhoan Duran and Riley Smith, the latter of whom has allowed just three earned runs over his last 11.1 innings.
The following are quick reviews of last week's games:
Hillsboro 5, Everett 4
Tim Susnara drove in the game-winning run in the ninth with a two-out fly over the head and beyond Everett left fielder Greifer Andrade to give the Hops a 5-4 win in the first of a five-game series at Ron Tonkin Field Thursday night, June 29.
The Hops continued to struggle with men in scoring position, going just 1-for-13 until Susnara's game winner with the bases loaded, which was ruled an RBI single even though it bounced over the left field wall. Prior to Susnara's hit, Hillsboro loaded the bases with none out against Everett southpaw reliever Matt Clancy, but Daulton Varsho and Pavin Smith failed to deliver before the former University of Oregon catcher ended the game in dramatic fashion.
Yan Sanchez, Susnara and Sanchez finished 2-for-5 on the night, with Varsho collecting his first professional home run with a solo blast to right centerfield in the sixth inning.
Also, congratulations to former Hops player Nate Robertson who successfully proposed to his girlfriend, Jaime Derrie, during the seventh inning stretch after singing "Take me out to the ballgame."
Hillsboro 5, Everett 4
For the second consecutive night the Hops managed to edge the Aqua Sox by a score of 5-4, but on this night there were no late-inning heroics, as the home Hops took a five-run lead and hung on late for their second victory in as many nights.
Connor Grey, who began the night with a 9.35 ERA, was fantastic, throwing seven shutout innings and allowing just three hits while striking out five and walking none. Hillsboro did the bulk of their damage in the sixth and seventh innings, scoring all five of their runs with a combination of walks, Everett errors and clutch hitting by Daulton Varsho and Bryan Araiza.
The Hops survived a furious Aqua Sox comeback attempt in the seventh, when Rafael Pujols and Anfernee Benitez allowed four Everett runs before Elbert Gonzalez finished them in the ninth.
Arizona second-round pick Drew Ellis made his professional debut in the game, singling in his first at-bat.
Hillsboro 11, Everett 2
The Hops plated four in the bottom half of the first inning, then sat back and let starting pitcher Riley Smith do the rest.
The second-year player from Lufkin, Texas was brilliant, scattering six hits over six full innings, allowing just two earned runs, striking out two and walking one before relievers Luis Castillo, Matt Peacock, and Pierce Romero finished the game in relief.
Hillsboro put the game away in the middle innings, scoring two in the fifth, three in the sixth, and two more in the seventh on a Bryan Araiza RBI ground out and Eudy Ramos RBI single to center.
With the win, Smith improved to 2-1 with a 2.08 ERA.
Hillsboro 3, Everett 0
Hops starter Jhoan Duran combined with three Hops relievers to throw a two-hit shutout, get a 3-0 win, and notch the fourth consecutive victory versus the Aqua Sox at Ron Tonkin Field.
Hillsboro got two runs in the first inning when a series of hits followed by a Drew Ellis double to left plated Yan Sanchez and Pavin Smith. The Hops got their third run in the sixth when right fielder Bryan Araiza homered to right field, his first of the season.
Duran improved to 2-1 with the win, while Kevin Ginkel and Cal Becker got halves and Erbert Gonzalez notched his third save of the season pitching a scoreless ninth inning. Becker was particularly impressive, going two full innings, allowing no hits and striking out three.
Everett 8, Hillsboro 4
On the verge of the franchise's second ever five-game series sweep, the Everett Aqua Sox sent a proverbial "not so fast my friend" message to the Hops, as well as the sellout Hillsboro crowd.
The visiting Sox scored six first-inning runs, highlighted by a David Banuelos three-run homer. In all, Everett hit three home runs, including Banuelos' in the first, Bryan Hernandez in the second and Eugene Helder's lead-off dinger in the third.
Hillsboro was held scoreless until the fourth when Eudy Ramos scored on a Camden Duzenack triple to right-center, then plated two in the eighth and one in the ninth before the post-game fireworks sent the five-game home stand out in style.
Andres Torres got the win for the Sox, while Mitchell Aker took the loss for the hometown Hops.
The Hops now head off on a seven-game road trip that takes in two games at Salem-Keizer before a five-game stint at Spokane.