Hops loss doesn't spoil winning opening night
Things didn't go quite as planned for the Hillsboro Hops in their home opener versus Vancouver.
The hometown Hops fell to the Canadians 5-1 Friday night, June 21, at Ron Tonkin Field, but while a mark against in the win/loss column, the night as a whole was a big victory for the minor league franchise a week into their seventh season.
An overflow crowd of nearly 5,000 people enjoyed a beautiful night for baseball, from their seats, the concourse — where a fresh array of food and beverage options were available — and the Family Berm, which afforded people a relaxing experience on the warm and mostly sunny night.
Despite the loss, President and General Manager K.L. Wombacher was all smiles before, and even after the game as fireworks lit up the Hillsboro sky to the delight of the thousands of faithful fans who stayed for the duration.
"The home opener is the best night of the year," Wombacher said. "We had nine months of anticipation and we had a great offseason business-wise, so to be able to translate that into the season is exciting."
While home openers are always exciting, they're also often the first real-time opportunity for the organization to see — and ultimately iron-out — the wrinkles in what will be a long summer season for the operation. Wombacher however, said due to an experienced crew of front office personnel, he expected things to go well despite it being the first go-around of the season.
"We're never going to be perfect," he said. "We're going to strive for it, but were in a good position right now. We have a lot of experience in the front office and probably our best group of people to date. We were more comfortable coming into this opening day than ever before, so we'll see how it goes tonight and then we'll adjust going forward."
And it went well — at least off the field.
Unfortunately it wasn't meant to be for the Hops on the field, for Vancouver pitcher, Grant Townsend, was lights-out from the start, throwing six innings of no-hit baseball before a mishap in centerfield led to an Andy Yerzy seventh inning double. The hit marked the end of Townsend's night on the mound and led to the Hops' only run when 18-year-old Kristian Robinson singled-in Yerzy two batters later.
The Canadians wasted little time getting ahead, scoring their initial run in the second, another in the third, then two more in the fourth when they parlayed two hits, a walk and two Marcos Tineo wild pitches into a 4-0 lead. Tineo, a third year pro from the Dominican Republic, struggled with his control from the get-go, throwing 23 pitches in the first inning, 57 through three, and 73 in all before leaving in the fourth having thrown three full innings, allowing four earned runs on eight hits while striking out four and walking three.
Tineo was spelled by Hillsboro's Franklin Soriano, and later Yaramil Hiraldo and Jose Almonte, who kept Vancouver at bay for the remainder of the game.
Townsend was brilliant for the Canadians, allowing just the one hit while striking out eight and walking one. The 21-year-old from Lake Tapps, Washington, appeared on track for a potential no-no before Vancouver centerfielder Cameron Eden lost a routine ball in the evening sky, leading to Yerzy's double and forcing the second year pro from the game.
In all, the Canadians had five players with two hits, including Eden, Trevor Schwecke and Ronny Brito, who all tallied a single RBI.
The Hops ended with just four hits, including Yerzy's double, Robinson's RBI single, and base knocks for Steven Leyton and Nick Grande in their Ron Tonkin Field debuts.
In the end, it was just one game and nothing anyone in the organization is going to lose much sleep over. But it was another great opener and the first of what will certainly be many enjoyable summer nights at the ballpark in Hillsboro — something Wombacher and the whole team is looking forward to.
"The team is really fired up," Wombacher said. "It was a tough road trip to start the year and we think we could've won another game or two, so I think they came back a little disappointed. But the energy during batting practice was good to see, and the smiles on guys' faces in the dugout really says it all."
June 19 — Tri-City 2, Hillsboro 1
Despite an outstanding performance by Hillsboro's Luis Frias, the Hops dropped the third of a four-game set with Tri-City when the Dust Devils broke a 1-1 tie with an extra inning run, ending the Hops' four-game winning streak, which started in Eugene.
Frias dazzled, throwing five full innings, allowing zero earned runs and just two hits while striking out three and walking one.
Hillsboro took a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning on Jesus Marriaga's solo home run to left center field, but allowed Tri-City to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth when an Alison Quintero fielder's choice plated Matthew Acosta. The Dust Devils ended the game an inning later when Luke Becker scored on an Acosta single to center.
The Hops managed just three hits in the game, while a combination of three Hillsboro pitchers held Tri-City to three hits of their own before the game-tying run in the ninth off of second-year pro Bryan Menendez.
Marriaga, Joe Robbins and Andy Yerzy all had hits for the Hops.
June 20 — Tri-City 6, Hillsboro 5
For the second day in a row, the Hops allowed a late-inning run to fall in the last of a four game set at Tri-City.
The Dust Devils broke open a 5-5 game in the bottom of the eighth when Reinaldo Ilarraza bunted home Tyler Benson with one out for what would ultimately be the game-winning run. Benson drew a walk off of Hillsboro reliever Trevor McKenna to start the inning, advanced to second on a passed ball, then moved to third and eventually scored on back-to-back sacrifice bunts.
Hillsboro started the game with two first-inning runs, then watched Tri-City score five unanswered runs before the Hops tied it with three runs in the fifth.
The Hops had 10 hits in all and were led by Jesus Marriaga and Kristian Robinson, who combined to go 4-for-8 with three RBI. Michel Gelabart started the game for Hillsboro but struggled, throwing 3.2 innings, allowing five earned runs on six hits while striking out four and walking three.
Tri-City tallied seven hits, led by Matthew Acosta, who finished 1-for-4 with three RBI. Nick Thwaits started the game for the Dust Devils and struck out seven in just four innings of work.
June 22 — Hillsboro 3, Vancouver 1
The Hops rebounded from their home-opening loss a night prior, breaking a 1-1 tie with two runs in the eighth then hanging on in the ninth for just their first win in their last four games.
Steven Leyton got Hillsboro on the board in the fourth with a solo home run to left field, then after the Canadians had tied the game an inning later on a Davis Schneider sacrifice fly, the home team took the lead for good when an Andy Yerzy single plated Ricky Martinez and Leyton scored on a fielder's choice.
The home-field Hops managed just five hits in the game, but were led by Martinez, who finished 2-for-4 with a run scored, and by Leyton, who tallied his first home run of the season and scored two runs.
Hillsboro got five strong innings from starting pitcher Adrian Del Moral, who allowed just one earned run on five hits while striking out seven and issuing no walks.
Vancouver's Luis De Los Santos had two hits for the Canadians, and starting pitcher William Gaston threw 5.2 innings, allowing one earned run on three hits.
June 23 — Hillsboro 4, Vancouver 1
In what's becoming a common theme, the Hops got another strong pitching performance — this time by Deyni Olivero — en route to a second straight home win over the visiting Vancouver Canadians.
Olivero, along with Jacob Stevens, combined to throw six scoreless innings, allowing just three hits while striking out four and walking six.
Andy Yerzy triggered what would amount to all four of Hillsboro's runs in the sixth inning, following a Steven Leyton single with a towering home run to right field to put the Hops ahead 2-0. Shortly thereafter and following a Jesus Marriaga hit-by-pitch, Jorge Barrosa singled in Marriaga, then later scored following three consecutive walks from Canadians pitcher Daniel Wasinger.
Vancouver plated their only run an inning later off of reliever Trevor McKenna, who walked his first batter, then after consecutive outs allowed a single and ground rule double before leaving and watching Yaramil Hiraldo get the inning's final out.
Bryan Menendez pitched a one, two, three ninth and secured the save.
Leyton led the Hops with two hits, while Yerzy, Barrosa, Wasinger, Ricky Martinez and Nick Dalesandro tallied a hit apiece.
June 24 — Hillsboro 13, Vancouver 4
For the second time in five days, Luis Frias dominated on the mound throwing five scoreless innings, allowing just two hits while striking out nine and walking three.
Frias got help with two runs in the third inning, then watched from the bench as his teammates exploded for seven runs in the sixth to blow the game wide open.
Hillsboro's Kristian Robinson and Jorge Barrosa drove in runs in the third, then the Hops tallied seven singles, a double and a hit-by-pitch en route to seven runs in the sixth. Lucas Herbert got things started with an RBI single to right field, then Nick Grande singled to center, Ricky Martinez doubled to right, Steven Leyton singled to the right side of the infield, and Robinson singled again, all resulting in runs to cross the plate.
The Hops scored four more in the seventh, and finished with 18 hits, led by Martinez, Leyton and Robinson who all finished with three hits.
After Monday's win, Hillsboro sits with a record of 7-4, now head to Salem for three games at Salem-Keizer before returning for a three game set with Eugene starting at 7:05 p.m. on Friday, June 28.