The Hillsboro Hops recovered from their six-game sweep at the hands of the Eugene Emeralds, splitting their High-A West series with the Spokane Indians, June 22-27.
In a week most in this area will remember for record temperatures that reached 109 degrees at Hops stadium by the end of day Sunday, the Hops took three of the series' first four games before dropping the final two, the last of which was rescheduled for 11:00 a.m. due to temperatures that eventually peaked at 115 degrees.
Despite the extreme temperatures and complications that come with it, Hillsboro manager Vince Harrison said it was business as usual for a team of players and coaches who have seen their share of heat over the years.
"We knew it was going to be hot, but you try to get guys out of that mentality of, 'It's hot,'" Harrison said. "We get 'em on the field early and try to keep them off of it as much as possible, but I'm pretty sure all these guys knew what they were getting when they signed up for baseball."
On the field, the Hops snapped a 7-game losing streak with a 5-2 win on June 23 and backed it up with two more, 6-4 and 2-0, the following two days. Certainly, it was good to get on the right side of the win/loss column, but Harrison said that despite the week's worth of losing prior, he's been happy with the team's development.
"You look at the record of that week in Eugene and it wasn't good, but we really have some good things happening," Harrison said. "We were in position to win some of those games in Eugene, it just didn't work out. So yeah, it was good to get some wins this week, but we also had some really cool things happen."
Amongst those "cool things," were three more promotions to Double-A Amarillo. The Diamondbacks organization sent former University of Oregon pitcher Ryne Nelson packing June 22, then followed with promotions for outfielder Tra Holmes and pitcher Joe Jones, the latter of which was part of a video announcement that went viral.
"With Joe's journey, having gone through the independent leagues and bouncing around a couple teams there, it was really cool to see that," Harrison said. "The whole team lined up to shake his hand and give him a hug. It meant a lot to me too and I'm glad the camera wasn't on me because I got a little choked-up in the corner."
Nelson's promotion seemed inevitable. The hard-throwing righthander has been dealing from the onset of the season, starting eight games, allowing just 11 earned runs on 21 hits in 39.1 innings pitched. In addition, the 23-year-old former second round pick has struckout 59 while walking just 14.
ROOT Sports had asked to speak with a player during their television broadcast over the weekend, Harrison said, so the manager used the request as a means of getting Nelson into his office. He then asked him if he'd be willing to do it, and after he agreed, Harrison said he couldn't because he'd be flying to Amarillo.
"He took it in typical 'Nellie' fashion," Harrison said. "He just kind of gave me a smile, gave us hugs, and we told him we appreciate him."
Nelson had just pitched the Hops to victory in their June 23 win, allowing just a run and two hits while striking out nine in 5 innings of work.
Now, the Hops again brace for the Eugene Emeralds who'll be arriving for a 6-game set starting June 29. Harrison said he's excited for the opportunity to get back in the win column against the Ems, and said the team should be getting fairly familiar with the club after two early season series' with the league leaders.
"All the guys we're going to see have pretty much been here all year, so from a planning standpoint it makes it a little easier," he said. "But this team's been good. They've won a lot of games, but we've been in a lot of those games, so I'm looking forward to it."
High-A West Standings (June 28):
Last week's games:
Spokane 6, Hillsboro 3
Hillsboro 5, Spokane 2
Hillsboro 6, Spokane 4
Hillsboro 2, Spokane 0
Spokane 9, Hillsboro 3
Spokane 7, Hillsboro 5
2B Cam Coursey hit .444 in three games of action this past week, while driving-in three runs and scoring two.
P Joe Jones appeared in two games in relief, picking up two saves while allowing no runs, no hits and walking just one in 2.2 innings of work.
P Ryne Nelson continued to work his magic, allowing one run on two hits, while striking out nine in 5 innings of work on his way to a promotion to Double-A.
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