Salem-Keizer gets even
HILLSBORO — Whereas everything seemed to fall Hillsboro's way in the first two games of the series against Salem-Keizer, the Hops struggled in all facets on Tuesday.
The Volcanoes won 8-2 to tie the Hops for first place in the Class A Northwest League South Division, after the Hops had won 7-3 and 4-3.
"We needed this win because we're trying to get the playoffs back to Salem," Volcanoes right fielder Franklin Labour said. "It was a really good win."
The Volcanoes regularly converted their scoring chances before the crowd of 3,016 at Ron Tonkin Field. The Hops failed to get a run until the ninth inning and left 11 men on base.
"We were behind in counts where we had to throw fastballs," Hillsboro manager Javier Colina said of his team's pitching. "They took advantage of that … we couldn't hit with runners in scoring position."
Labour kicked off the offensive barrage in the first inning with a monster home run off starter Andrew Saalfrank (0-1). The blast hit the scoreboard in left center field.
Although the ball looked like a no-doubter, Labour sprinted, thinking he might have to beat out a double against Hillsboro's rangy outfielders.
"I knew I hit it pretty solid, but we haven't seen the ball travel a lot in batting practice," Labour said. "I hustled my way out in case it didn't get out."
The 21-year-old from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic leads the Northwest League in runs (32), home runs (13), RBIs (30), slugging percentage (.725) and OPS (1.142).
"I'm just trying to be ready for my pitch and trying not to miss it," Labour said. "When I miss my pitch, the pitchers take advantage of me."
The Volcanoes scored three runs in the second, one in the fourth and three in the fifth to take an 8-0 lead.
Reigning Northwest League Pitcher of the Week Michel Gelabert took over for Saalfrank in the second inning.
Gelabert, coming off a seven-inning shutout performance against Boise on July 11, was not as effective this time around. The left-hander surrendered six runs (five earned), five hits and three walks in three innings.
Salem-Keizer's Tyler Fitzgerald led off the second with a single and stolen base. After Alexander Canario walked, Beicker Mendoza doubled both runners home. Brandon Martorano knocked in Mendoza with a double.
In the fourth, Mendoza doubled for the second time off Gelabert and scored on Simon Whiteman's single to make the score 5-0.
At that point, a comeback wasn't out of the question for the Hops. In the fifth, however, Gelabert walked Labour and hit Ricardo Genoves with a pitch to end his night.
Jacob Stevens relieved Gelabert and promptly surrendered a double to Fitzgerald. An RBI groundout, single and error raised the count to 8-0.
The Hops' pitching settled down and allowed only three more base runners.
Salem-Keizer starting pitcher Jacob Cruz (2-2), who in five innings gave up five hits, and reliever Trevor Horn (three innings and two hits allowed in three innings) shut down the Hops for eight innings.
In the ninth, the Hops managed two runs off Abel Adames, but Israel Cruz came in and got the final three outs.
Both teams are 20-12 with six games remaining in the first-half race. The Hops have the tiebreaker; while the teams are 3-3 head-to-head, the Hops are 12-6 in division games (the second tiebreaker) and the Volcanoes are 11-7.
Hillsboro's remaining six games are against division rival Eugene (14-18), with games Wednesday through Friday at PK Park and Sunday through Monday at Ron Tonkin Field.
Salem-Keizer's next six games are against division foe Boise (15-17), with three games at Volcanoes Stadium (Wednesday through Friday) and three at the Hawks (Sunday through Monday).
Colina said he told the Hops: "It's day-by-day. It's baseball. Be ready to compete again Wednesday. Today is over."
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