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THURSDAY NORTHWEST LEAGUE PLAYOFFS/Big ninth inning lifts Eugene to win at Hillsboro, championship series berth

The Eugene Emeralds got the timely hits. The Hillsboro Hops did not.

So the Emeralds are headed to the Northwest League championship series and the Hops are finished after Eugene beat Hillsboro 10-4 on Thursday at Ron Tonkin Field.

Eugene scored six runs in the top of the ninth to turn a tie game into a comfortable lead as the Emeralds swept the best-of-3 South Division playoff series.

Hillsboro, which won the division in both halves of the regular season, could not solve Eugene this season. The Ems won eight of 12 regular-season games between the clubs and both playoff games.

Eugene, which won the 2016 Northwest League title, will meet the Vancouver Canadians in the championship series. Vancouver swept Spokane for the North Division title.

The Hops never led on Thursday and fell to 6-1 all time in Northwest League playoff home games. A crowd of 2,334 watched on Thursday.

After Hillsboro tied it 4-4 with a run in the bottom of the eighth inning, Eugene batted around in the top of the ninth.

Hillsboro reliever Breckin Williams — who had retired 14 batters in a row entering play Thursday — hit leadoff batter Michael Cruz in the foot. Eugene shortstop Johnny Bethencourt then hit a line-drive single to center.

On a Gustavo Polanco grounder to third baseman Drew Ellis, Bethancourt was forced out at second, but Polanco beat the throw to first putting runners at the corners with one out.

Miguel Amaya then doubled off the left-field fence to plate the go-ahead run.

After an intentional walk, Chris Singleton hit a bases-loaded double on a 1-2 pitch to break open the game. Following a pitching change, Zach Davis tripled off Juan Torres to plate Singleton and Davis scored on a sacrifice fly.

Eugene took a 3-0 lead from three hits in the top of the second inning off of Hillsboro starting pitcher Tyler Badamo.

Bethencourt singled, stole second and scored the first run on a two-out single by Amaya. Brandon Hughes, who hit one home run in the regular season, then homered to right.

The Hops tied it 3-3 in the bottom of the third on Pavin Smith's first professional home run. He curled a shot to right field over the top of the foul pole down the right-field line. It came off Jesus Camargo, who did not allow a home run during the regular season.

Ryan Grotjohn walked and Luis Lara singled ahead of Smith's home run, which came with one out.

The Emeralds took a 4-3 lead in the top of the seventh. Bethencourt hit a leadoff double and scored on a two-out single by Brandon Hughes on a 1-2 count.

The Hops tied it in the bottom of the eighth. Luis Lara — who was 2 for 4 and the only Hillsboro player with multiple hits — hit a leadoff double. Dan Swain, pinch running for Lara, took third on a passed ball and scored on a one-out groundout by Drew Ellis.

Hillsboro was 1 for 13 with runners in scoring position on Thursday and 2 for 18 in the two games. Eugene was 6 for 10 with runners in scoring position on Thursday and 8 for 19 in the series.

The Emeralds had 12 hits in Thursday's game, five of them from the bottom three batters in the batting order who had eight RBIs and scored five runs. Seventh hitter Amaya was 2 for 4 with two RBIs and two runs. Eighth hitter Hughes was 2 for 3 with his three-run homer and two runs. Ninth hitter Singleton had the bases-clearing double in the ninth.

Eugene shortstop Bethencourt was 3 for 4 with a double and scored twice.

Williams was tagged for five runs while getting only one out in the ninth to take the pitching loss.

Badamo, the Hops' starter, went six innings and struck out seven without a walk.

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