Leave no doubt.
The Hillsboro Hops did just that in the second game of their best-of-three divisional round series with Salem-Keizer, defeating the Volcanoes 6-3 Thursday night, Sept. 5, at Volcanoes Stadium, and in the process earning a spot in the Northwest League Championship Series beginning this Saturday, Sept. 7.
Led by Ryan January and a series of relievers anchored by former Oregon Duck pitcher, Ryne Nelson, the Hops grabbed an early lead, watched the Volcanoes answer the bell, then slowly pulled away en route to their first divisional series win since 2015.
January finished 2-for-5 with three RBIs, including a two-RBI single in the first and an RBI double in the fifth.
Nelson — who relieved starter Conor Grammes after allowing two earned runs in three innings — pitched three innings in relief, shutting the Volcanoes out, allowing one hit while striking out four and walking none.
Following January's two-run single in the first inning, Hillsboro scored a third run on a Lyle Lin sacrifice fly to center in the second. Then after Salem-Keizer plated two runs in their half of the second inning, January struck again in the fifth with an RBI double, and was immediately followed by a Liover Peguero RBI double of his own to put the visiting Hops ahead 5-2.
Hillsboro scored a final run on a wild pitch in the seventh, and the Volcanoes added a run of their own in the bottom of that inning before the Hops' Justin Garcia, Eduardo Herrera, and Mailon Arroyo shut Salem-Keizer down to clinch the win, and ultimately a series sweep.
Nelson got the win for Hillsboro, while Arroyo got the save.
Salem-Keizer starter Caleb Kilian took the loss, allowing three runs (one earned) on four hits over four innings of work.
The best-of-five NWL Championship Series against either Spokane or Tri-City will begin at 7:05 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7, at Ron Tonkin Field, with Game 2 scheduled for 5:05 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 7, also in Hillsboro.
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