Hops inch closer to playoff berth
With their 7-2 win over Spokane on Monday night, Aug. 26, the Hillsboro Hops inched ever-closer to a sixth consecutive playoff berth, one that could break the current record of five held by the Vancouver Canadians.
The Hops are four games clear of second-place Salem-Keizer in the Northwest League's South Division with just six games remaining in the regular season. Hillsboro will host the Boise Hawks at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday night, Aug. 28, as the first of a three game set that'll mark the last Hops home stand of the regular season.
Hillsboro's Monday night win over Spokane ended what was a pivotal second-half stretch that saw the team win five of seven games, including a three-game sweep of then second place Eugene to start, and consecutive wins over Spokane to salvage a split with the home Indians to end it.
Tyler Holton — a ninth round pick in the 2018 draft — was the story, pitching twice in the week and dazzling, throwing 10 1/3 innings in two starts, allowing two earned runs on seven hits, while striking out 21 and walking two.
Tristan English continued his solid stretch with Hillsboro, tallying eight hits in his last six games and raising his season batting average to .271. The first-year pro also has six home runs, a .452 slugging percentage and .790 OPS.
With just six games left on the schedule — all against Boise — the Hops are 44-26 overall and own the best record in the NWL, two games better than first-half champion, Salem-Keizer.
Here's a recap of the week that was:
Aug. 20 — Hillsboro 5, Eugene 0
The Hops did a little bit of everything last Tuesday night, but got the most from the mound en route to a big opening-series win over the Eugene Emeralds.
Hillsboro's Conor Grammes and Marcos Tineo held the Ems to just three hits over the nine innings, while striking out 12 and walking none.
Grammes — a fifth round pick from Xavier — is warming to his professional career, threw three innings to start the game, allowing a single hit while striking out four. After a relatively rocky start to his initial Hops campaign, the 22-year-old native Virginian has allowed just three hits over his last eight innings. Meanwhile, Tineo — who contributed six innings of two hit, eight strikeout work on the mound — continued his own impressive stretch on the bump, allowing just a single run over his last 17 innings, lowering his season ERA to 2.32.
Offensively, the Hops got single runs in the first, second, third, fifth and sixth innings, capitalizing on two solo homers by Tristan English and Dominic Canzone. In all, Hillsboro got hits from five different players, including a 2-for-4, two RBI performance from Liover Peguero.
Tineo improved to 6-2 with the win, while Eugene's Didier Vargas took the loss for the Ems.
With the win, Hillsboro took a 2-game lead in the NWL South Division standings.
Aug. 21 — Hillsboro 8, Eugene 0
In Holton we trust. That's what first-year pro Tyler Holton is summoning with his recent performances on the mound.
The former Florida State Seminole has been virtually unhittable in recent weeks, including this game, where the ninth-round pick in this year's draft threw six innings, allowing no runs on three hits, while striking out 11 and walking one. Over his last three starts, Holton has allowed zero runs on just six hits, while striking out 28 and walking one in 16 innings of work.
In support of Holton, the Hops put-up a run in the first inning, another in the second, then four in the third before tacking on back-to-back runs in the sixth and seventh to finish Eugene off.
Hillsboro got a solo home run from Eddie Hernandez in the first inning. Hernandez was one of four Hops who tallied multiple hits on the night, including Andy Yerzy, Kevin Lachance and Dominic Canzone, who finished 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored. For Canzone, it was his seventh hit in his last four games.
Not to be outdone, the Hops' Nick Snyder — a first-year pro from West Virginia — threw three scoreless innings in relief, allowing no hits while striking out six. Snyder — like the rest of the Hops it seems — has been filthy since his arrival in Hillsboro on July 18, having yet to relinquish a run while striking out 23 in 12 innings of work.
The win was the fourth in a row for the Hops, who remained in first place.
Aug. 22 — Hillsboro 3, Eugene 2
The Hops won their fifth in a row and third straight to sweep their arch rival in the series finale at P.K. Park in Eugene.
While winning comfortably in the first two games, Hillsboro took a different approach in the last, coming from behind for a tenth inning win to remain in the first place in the Northwest League's South Division.
Trailing 2-1, Hillsboro tied the game in the ninth on an Andy Yerzy RBI single to left, then took their first lead of the game an inning later when Jorge Barrosa singled to right, scoring Kevin Lachance who started the inning on second base as part of the minor league's extra inning protocol which started last season.
Eduardo Herrera put the Ems down in order in the bottom of the tenth to secure the win.
Eugene took a 1-0 lead in the second on a fielder's choice. The Hops tied it 1-1 in the fifth when Daniel Wasinger plated Yerzy with a sacrifice fly to left. Then Eugene took their final lead of the night two innings later on an Alexander Guerra RBI single, scoring Edmond Americaan to put the Ems up 2-1 before Hillsboro's late — and ultimately extra innings — heroics.
The Hops won the game despite tallying just three hits, one each by Barrosa, Yerzy, and Tristan English.
On the mound, Hillsboro relievers Hernandez, Liu Fuenmayor, and Mailon Arroyo held Eugene scoreless over the final three innings, holding the home team hitless whiles striking out three and walking one.
Aug. 23 — Hillsboro 8, Spokane 2
Make it six.
Hillsboro won their sixth consecutive game, this one handily, getting four runs in both the fourth and fifth innings en route to a series-opening win over Spokane.
Jorge Barrosa, Tristan English, Ryan January, and Dominic Canzone all tallied two hits, and were part of an 11-hit barrage that overwhelmed Indian pitching.
After Hops starter, allowed a first inning run on a Blaine Crim single to left, Hillsboro responded in the fourth inning with three singles and a Daniel Wasinger double to take a 4-1 lead before January's two-run home run in the fifth capped consecutive four-run innings, putting Hillsboro ahead 8-1 and in cruise control on their way to a sixth straight win.
Cody Reed got the win in just his third appearance in relief for the Hops, throwing two innings and allowing two hits while striking out four.
January's homer was part of a 2-for-4 night, which included three RBIs and a run scored.
Aug. 24 — Spokane 9, Hillsboro 6
All good things eventually come to an end.
The Hops's six-game win streak ended in Spokane, despite what appeared to be an early step towards a seventh straight win.
After taking a 3-0 lead following a first inning Jorge Barrosa RBI single to left, along with a 2-RBI single by Liover Peguero in the third, Hillsboro allowed four Spokane runs in the bottom of the third, and five more in the fifth before a late rally fell short in a 9-6 defeat.
Hillsboro's Ryne Nelson started strong, striking out five of his first six batters, but failed to record an out in the third inning before being replaced following a three-run homer by the Indians' Derwin Barreto. Nelson left the game having allowed four runs on three hits, while striking out five and walking one.
The Hops rallied to get within three runs in the eighth, getting a single from Barrosa, a double from Jesus Marriaga, and a two-run home run by Tristan English, but the rally ended there, as a Joe Gillette strikeout and Ryan January ground out cut-short a potential come-from-behind win.
Marriaga led the Hops with three hits.
English's home run was his fifth of the season.
Aug. 25 — Spokane 7, Hillsboro 4
After winning six consecutive, the Hops dropped a second straight contest to Spokane before the series' fourth and final game, Aug. 26, prior to Hillsboro's final regular season home stand with Boise, Aug. 28 through 30, at Ron Tonkin Field.
A 3-2 game turned ugly in the eighth when Spokane's Blaine Crim hit a grand slam to left center field to put the Indians ahead 7-2.
Hillsboro took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth on a Tristan English RBI double to left, but then quickly relinquished that lead a half-inning later thanks in part to two Hops errors, and later a couple singles by Scott Kapers and Jake Hoover en route to a 3-1 lead.
The Hops pulled a run closer when an English RBI single scored Lyle Lin to make it 3-2, then following Crim's grand slam, Hillsboro rallied for two in the ninth thanks in part to English's sixth home run of the season and later an Andy Yerzy RBI double, before a Lin ground out ended the game.
English finished with three hits and three RBIs.
Conor Grammes started the game and dazzled, throwing three scoreless innings, allowing just a single hit while striking out three.
Marcos Tineo took the loss despite failing to allow an earned run, marking his third straight appearance and 13th consecutive inning without allowing an earned run.
In spite of the loss, Hillsboro remains in first place, protecting a three game lead over second place Salem-Keizer.
Aug. 26 — Hillsboro 7, Spokane 2
There's hot, then there's Holton hot.
Tyler Holton did it again Monday night, allowing just two runs in 4 1/3 innings of work, while fanning 10 Spokane hitters and walking just one. In the process, the first-year pro lowered his ERA to 2.30 and continued a torrid stretch that includes 38 strikeouts in his last 20 1/3 innings pitched.
For the Hops, the win was there fifth in seven tries and coupled with Salem-Keizer's loss, puts Hillsboro four games clear of the second place Volcanoes with just six games remaining in the second half.
Spokane's Kellen Strahm got the Indians on the board first with a first inning home run off of Holton, but from there it was all Hillsboro, as the road Hops scored two in the third, two more in the fourth, and a single run in each of the fifth and sixth innings before tallying their final run in the ninth.
Offensively, three Hops tallied multiple hits, including Ricky Martinez, Eddie Hernandez, and Dominic Canzone who finished 3-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored.
Hillsboro's bullpen was lights-out in relief, allowing just a single hit while striking out six in 4 2/3 innings of relief.
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