HILLSBORO -- It was the home opener for the Hops Tuesday night and there was a special added attraction. Right-handed pitcher Matt Koch, who has pitched in the major leagues, was the starting pitcher for Hillsboro -- the first big-leaguer to ever appear for the team.
But in the end, all Koch did was put the home team in a 6-0 hole. Which it climbed out of, thanks to a sensational bullpen performance and a walkoff single in the 12th inning by Domingo Leyba that climaxed a 7-6 victory.
The Hops loaded the bases in the ninth after a two-out triple by Eudy Ramos on a bloop that turned into a triple after a failed attempt at a shoestring catch. But after two walks, a groundout ended the inning. And in the 10th they had runners at first and third with one out but couldn't score.
Koch, a former big-leaguer with the parent Arizona Diamondbacks, was making a rehab start for the Hops and didn't’t exactly get off to a smooth start.
The right-hander allowed a long, wind-aided home run to the first batter of the game, Malique Ziegler, and then singles to the next three hitters, upping the lead to 2-0 with still nobody out in the first.
But a pickoff at second, a strikeout and a groundout got Koch out of the inning.
He retired the side in order in the second but was touched for two more runs in the third and the same number in the fourth.
Koch finished up his start after five innings, allowing nine hits and five earned runs.
But the Hops didn't quit.
Designated hitter Kyle Smith got the home team on the board with a two-run homer in the bottom of the fourth, pulling Hillsboro within 6-2.
The Hops scored in the seventh on a two-out, two-run bloop double to right field by Yan Sanchez. The tying runs were in scoring position after that, and Bryan Araiza got one of the home on a checked-swing infield single and the tying run scored moments later on a wild pitch.
By that time the 4,537 fans were in a frenzy after watching their team rally from the 6-0 deficit heading to the eighth. But they had to hang around a while as the night turned chilly to see the end.