Kristian Robinson showed off his bat and wheels in a win over the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes to open the second half of Northwest League play for the Hillsboro Hops Tuesday, July 23.
The 18-year-old Bahamian outfielder, ranked by MLB.com as the Arizona Diamondbacks' fifth-best prospect, singled twice and hammered a go-ahead two-run home run in the third inning. In all, he drove in four runs, adding two more on a two-out single in the seventh inning.
Hops pitching was less flashy but still effective, holding the visiting Volcanoes to two runs until the eighth inning, when Volcanoes second baseman Jeff Houghtby just missed a home run off Hops reliever Justin Garcia, then scored as center fielder Alexander Canario turned around a 2-0 fastball, hitting the scoreboard in left-center field for a two-run homer of his own.
Despite Garcia's eighth-inning wobble, the Hops won 5-4.
Eduardo Herrera relieved Garcia, getting a double play to end the eighth inning and notching the save in the ninth.
Tommy Henry, a left-hander out of the University of Michigan who was the 74th overall draft pick last month, made his professional debut as Hillsboro's starter. He walked Canario to begin the game, then gave up a run-scoring triple, in his only inning of work, striking out one.
University of Oregon product Ryne Nelson, whom the Diamondbacks drafted in the second round last month, pitched the second inning for Hillsboro. He also gave up a run, on a double by Houghtby that scored Salem-Keizer designated hitter Harrison Freed, but struck out three in his sole inning.
Left-hander Nick Snyder, drafted out of West Virginia in the 11th round, pitched a scoreless third inning. He turned the ball over to Wilfry Cruz, who didn't allow a hit in four innings of relief and struck out seven Volcanoes.
After Garcia gave up the Canario home run in the eighth inning and surrendered a single to shortstop Tyler Fitzgerald, Hillsboro manager Javier Colina hooked him in favor of Eduardo Herrera, who induced catcher Ricardo Genoves into an inning-ending double play, preserving the lead for Hillsboro.
While four of the Hops' five runs were driven in by Robinson, the home team got its first run with a little help from Robinson's baserunning in the first inning. After Robinson singled to move left fielder Jesus Marriaga to third base with two outs, he broke for second base. Marriaga stole home on Genoves' late throw to second, tying the game.
The Salem-Keizer starting pitcher, Jesus Ozoria, shouldered the loss despite turning in a quality start for the visiting squad. Ozoria allowed three runs on seven hits and a walk over six innings of work, and he struck out three Hops along the way.
Robinson and third baseman Ricky Martinez each had two stolen bases for the Hops, alongside Marriaga's first-inning steal of home.
Fitzgerald and Houghtby had two hits apiece for Salem-Keizer.
Robinson and Marriaga led the Hops with three hits each.
Continuing a streak from the first half, Tuesday's game marked the fifth straight win for Hillsboro. It snapped a seven-game winning streak for Salem-Keizer, dating back to a July 16 win that capped their last series at Ron Tonkin Field.
The Hops are now 1-0 in the second-half standings as they attempt to earn a playoff spot with the best record in the Northwest League South Division. The Volcanoes already punched their ticket to the postseason by leading the division standings in the first half, which ended Monday, July 22.
The Hops improved to 25-14 for the season, while the Volcanoes dropped to 26-13. Salem-Keizer still owns the best overall record in the Northwest League, with Hillsboro hot on its heels.
The Boise Hawks also won their second-half opener and are tied with Hillsboro for first in the South Division, one game in.
The Hops and the Volcanoes will continue their three-game series at Ron Tonkin Field at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday, July 24.
Editor's note: A previous version of this story misstated the round in which Nick Snyder was drafted. He was the Arizona Diamondbacks' 11th-round draft pick this year. The story has been corrected.
By Mark Miller
Editor, Forest Grove News-Times
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