Hawks lose, but clinch playoff spot

BOISE, Idaho - Zach Esquerra went 3-for-5 with two homers and five RBI, leading the Hillsboro Hops past the Boise Hawks, 14-3, at Memorial Stadium.

Despite the loss, Boise secured their third-consecutive Northwest League playoff appearance - as Salem-Keizer clinched the second half South Division title with a 15-1 victory over Eugene. The Hawks, who have the best overall record among the three remaining teams (outside of S-K) in the division, earn the berth to the League Divisional Series - beginning with Game 1 in Boise on Tuesday night.

Hillsboro jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the opening frame - including an opposite field two-run homer by Esquerra. Back-to-back RBI doubles by Jordan Parr and Ryan Gebhardt in the second keyed a three-run inning to extend the lead to 6-0.

After Carlos Penalver lined an RBI double in the second to get Boise on the board, Esquerra led off the third with a solo homer and Brian Billigen added an RBI single to give Hillsboro a 8-1 lead.

Kevin Encarnacion got two runs back in the third with a two-run homer, his eighth of the year, but the Hops plated two in the sixth and added four in the seventh, including a two-run Equerra double, to complete the scoring.

Austin Platt got the win, allowing three runs on four hits in six innings of work. Eight Hops batters had multi-hit games, with Gebhardt going 3-for-5 with an RBI. Hillsboro had 18 hits in the win - two off their franchise record.

The series finale is tomorrow night at 5:35 p.m., with Michael Wagner meeting Ross Gerdeman.

NOTES: Jose Rosario gutted through five innings for Boise, allowing eight runs on 12 hits - both season highs by a Hawks' for Tuesday's playoff game with S-K are on sale now at, by calling 322-5000, or by visiting the Memorial Stadium box office beginning at 10 a.m. tomorrow.