Hops return from road trip atop Southern Division standings
Despite a six-game road trip, the Hillsboro Hops just keep winning.
After a difficult loss a night earlier, which saw Hillsboro blow a three-run lead in the bottom of the ninth, the road Hops responded with a 4-2 win over the Eugene Emeralds on Monday, July 9, securing another series victory and returning home atop the Northwest League's Southern Division standings.
The Hops overcame a two-run deficit, scoring three in the fifth and another in the seventh, then watched as their bullpen pitched eight scoreless innings, striking out 10 while walking just one.
After taking two games of three both at Salem-Keizer to start the week and now at Eugene, Hillsboro has now won six of their seven series' this year.
The Ems tallied two runs in the first inning off of Hops starter Jackson Goddard, when Fernando Kelli scored on a fielder's choice and Nelson Velazquez followed that with an RBI single to left. But Hillsboro responded in the fifth when a Francis Martinez solo homer pulled the Hops within 2-1 before a Jorge Perez sacrifice fly, followed by a Jose Caballero RBI single giving Hillsboro a 3-2 lead. One they'd never give up.
The Hops tacked a fourth run in the seventh on a Caballero fielder's choice, but the real story on this night was not the Hillsboro offense, but rather a pitching performance that was lights-out.
After Goddard was removed at the start of the second inning, Bryan Valdez, West Tunnell, Ethan Larrison, and Kyler Stout dominated the Ems, allowing just three hits and exorcising the demons of a night prior.
Offensively, the Hops were led by Caballero and Tra Holmes who tallied two hits apiece, with Caballero driving in two runs.
With the win, Hillsboro improved to 17-8 on the year and will have a day off before starting a five-game home series with Tri-City on Wednesday, July 11, at 7:05 p.m. at Ron Tonkin Field.
July 4 – Salem-Keizer 15, Hillsboro 1
Gone and now forgotten.
The Hillsboro Hops' seven game win streak ended Wednesday, July 4, at Volcano Stadium in Keizer, to the tune of a 15-1 defeat at the hands of the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes.
More than 5,000 fans showed up to see a Fourth of July battle between the Northwest League Southern Division's two best teams, post-game fireworks and the professional debut of Joey Bart, the San Francisco Giants' first round selection and second overall pick in the 2018 MLB draft. Bart didn't disappoint, smashing two homeruns en route to a 3-for-5 performance, including 4 RBIs.
It was a mighty fall to Earth for the Hops, who were out hit by the Volcanoes 18-3. Jose Caballero, Andy Yerzy and Francis Martinez tallied hits for Hillsboro, with outfielder Jorge Perez driving in the Hops' only run of the night when he plated Tra Holmes with a first inning ground ball to first, giving Hillsboro its first and only lead of the night.
Hillsboro's Bryan Valdez — who spelled starter Jackson Goddard after one inning — took the brunt of the Volcanoes' battering, allowing six earned runs on eight hits over nearly three innings pitched, despite Goddard taking the loss.
Salem-Keizer's Solomon Bates got the win for the Volcanoes, throwing two shutout innings.
July 5 – Hillsboro 5, Salem-Keizer 4
It's never easy, but it was especially difficult for the Hops Thursday night when, tied 4-4, Hillsboro closer Wesley Rodriguez faced a bases loaded, no out jam in the bottom of the ninth before a timely double play followed by a Rodriguez strike out, ended the inning and sending the game to extras where the Hops prevailed in the tenth.
The extra stanza was the first for Hillsboro since the new extra-inning rule was put into place, which puts a runner on second base to start the inning. Tra Holmes promptly singled to center to put runners on the corners, then — quickly following a Jorge Perez pop-out — Jose Caballero beat out a potential double play ball, scoring Holmes and ultimately leading to a Hops victory.
Hillsboro trailed by three runs after one, but scored one in the third and three more in the fifth on a Ryan January RBI double, followed by a two-run double by Perez.
Tra Holmes led the Hops at the plate, going two-for-three with a walk and RBI.
Ryan Weiss started the game on the mound for Hillsboro and left after one inning, allowing three earned runs. Kenny Hernandez came on in relief and pitched five strong innings, allowing no runs on five hits while striking out three and walking one.
July 6 – Hillsboro 6, Salem-Keizer 5
With a three-run ninth inning lead and first place on the line, Hillsboro's Josh Green came through, though just barely.
The Salem-Keizer Volcanoes — trailing 6-3 entering the ninth inning — scored two runs on an error on what should've amounted to a game-ending double play, but failed to push the tying run across from second base when Green got the Volcanoes' Josh Bart to line out to second, ending the game, giving the Hops the series and pushing Hillsboro two games ahead in the Northwest League South Division standings.
The Hops scored three runs in the first inning thanks primarily to a Francis Martinez two-run double, added a fourth in the third on a Keshawn Lynch RBI single and added a run in the fourth when Jorge Perez hit his first home run of the season off Salem-Keizer's Alejandro De La Rosa. Lastly, they tacked-on a sixth and ultimately vital run in the ninth on a two-out Tra Holmes single that plated Zack Jones.
Hillsboro starter Matt Tabor allowed three earned runs over nearly four innings and left with the bases loaded and a 5-3 lead in the fourth, but was bailed out by Trevor McKenna who continued his scoreless 2018 by retiring the Volcanoes' Aaron Bond to end the inning. McKenna, Ethan Larrison and Kyler Stout would stymie Salem-Keizer until the ninth, allowing just one hit while striking out six.
Offensively, the Hops were led by Andy Yerzy who finished 4-for-4 to raise his season average to .324, while Martinez, Lynch, Jose Caballero, and Ryan Dobson added two hits apiece.
Since their Fourth of July defeat to Salem-Keizer, the Hops won three straight and appeared to be firing on all cylinders and any thoughts of a Hillsboro letdown in the wake of their seven game win streak were all but extinguished.
In the first of a three-game set at Eugene Saturday night, the road Hops tallied five runs on 11 hits, while holding the Emeralds to just four hits in a 5-1 victory.
Catcher Andy Yerzy had three hits on the night, including a double and solo homerun en route to raising his season batting average to .342. The Hops scored one run in the third inning, two in the sixth, and a run apiece in the eighth and ninth, then watched as reliever Yeison Santana closed out what was already a dominating Hillsboro performance on the mound.
Matt Mercer and Ryan Miller pitched the first and second innings for the Hops, then Franklyn Soriano bridged the gap to Santana with five brilliant innings of work, allowing a single earned run on one hit while striking out five and walking none.
In addition to Yerzy, Hillsboro's Ryan Dobson, Keshawn Lynch and Dan Swain all tallied two hits, the latter bumping his season average to .364.
Yerzy's four hits marked the 10th time this season a Hops hitter has notched three or more hits in a game, with the catcher from Ontario, Canada responsible for five of those.
Seemingly well on their way to their fourth straight victory, things went horribly wrong for the Hops Sunday night in Eugene.
Leading 3-0 in the bottom of the ninth inning, the nearly 5,000 fans in attendance at P.K. Park saw the Emeralds muster three hits and four runs off of Hillsboro closer Wesley Rodriguez, en route to a stunning 4-3 Eugene win.
The Ems got their first run on a Christopher Morel sacrifice fly, then used back-to-back ground rule doubles to tie it 3-3. Hops reliever Kai-Wei Lin then entered for Rodriguez, quickly throwing two wild pitches, the last of which plated Eugene's Gustavo Polanco to bring the Ems faithful to their feet and end Hillsboro's three-game win streak.
The loss marred an otherwise sterling Hops performance on the mound, with Hillsboro starter Adrian Del Moral throwing five shutout innings, then watching as relievers Brian Christian and Josh Green worked the sixth, seventh and eighth, allowing just a single hit before handing it to Rodriguez in the ninth.
The Hops scored the game's first two runs in the second when — following three consecutive walks to load the bases — Ryan Dobson scored on a wild pitch, then Jorge Perez trotted home on an Andy Yerzy single to give Hillsboro a 2-0 lead. They tacked-on a third run in the sixth on doubles by Joey Rose and Francis Martinez, but stranded two runners in the seventh with runners on second and third with no outs.
Dobson led the Hops with three hits, raising his season batting average to .311, while Rose tallied two hits in defeat.