It just couldn't be easy.
Leading Tri-City two games to one in the best-of-five NWL Championship Series, the Hillsboro Hops were one win away from clinching their third league title in franchise history Tuesday night, Sept. 10, at Gesa Stadium in Pasco, WA. However, as if preordained as part of what's already been a series fraught with drama, the Hops will have to wait one more day if they want to hoist the trophy after falling to the Dust Devils 6-0, setting-up the deciding fifth game tomorrow in the Tri-Cities.
The home Devils wasted little time jumping on the Hops Tuesday night, scoring two runs in the second inning, plating three more in the fifth, and tallying the game's final score in the sixth before letting their pitching staff do the rest.
Tri-City starter Jason Blanchard threw three scoreless innings, allowing just one hit before giving way to reliever Wen-Hua Sung, and later Ethan Elliott who combined to shutout the Hops over the final six innings. In all, the three Dust Devils pitchers allowed seven hits while striking out 12 and walking just two.
Hillsboro starter Marcus Tineo allowed two earned runs on six hits before leaving the game with two outs in the fourth inning, only to watch Liu Fuenmayor and Yan Sanchez allow a combined three earned runs while recording just two outs.
The Dust Devils' Matthew Acosta got things started in the second inning with a two run homerun to right center field. Three innings later, Reinaldo Ilarraza and Logan Driscoll scored on bases loaded walks, then Kelvin Melean trotted home on a Nick Gatewood sacrifice fly to center that put the home team ahead 5-0.
Tri-City's final run came on a sixth inning sacrifice fly by Driscoll that scored Acosta.
The Hops tallied seven hits in the game and put runners in scoring position in each of the third, fourth, sixth and eighth innings, but failed to get the situational hit when they needed it.
In all, six Hillsboro batters notched hits in the game, led by outfielder Jorge Barrosa who finished 2-for-4.
Tri-City was led by Acosta who finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs scored, including his second inning homer.
Wednesday's game to decide the championship is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. at Gesa Stadium in Pasco.
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