TUESDAY LOCAL SPORTS NEWS/Hops return six from 2017 Northwest League season, and will start with three 2018 Diamondbacks draft picks; Blazers' first three summer games set


The Portland Pilots have added Sema Pankin to their 2018 recruiting class. 

Pankin, from Omsk, Russia, will join UP as a freshman this fall.  

He is the fifth member of the Pilots' incoming class. UP also signed Eleftherios Neos (Ayia Napa, Cyprus), five-star talent Niklas Oberg (Plano, Texas) and four-stars Issa Yoshida (Campbell, California) and Leo Hibi (Irvine, California). 

Coach Aaron Gross said Pankin's Universal Tennis Rating is the highest of his five recruits. 


Six full-time members from Hillsboro's 2017 club are listed on this year's Opening Day roster. 

Right-handed pitchers Luis Castillo and Rafael Pujols will begin the season with the Hops when they open Northwest League play at 7 p.m. Friday in Everett versus the AquaSox. Infielder Ryan Dobson, outfielders Tra Holmes and Dan Swain and left-hander Kenny Hernandez return as well. 

Three of the Arizona Diamondbacks' 2018 MLB draft picks will report to Hillsboro: right-handers Josh Green (14th round, Southeastern Louisiana), Ethan Larrison (16th round, Indiana State) and Kyler Stout (18th round, Oral Roberts). 

The Diamondbacks assigned right-hander Wesley Rodriguez and infielders Francis Martinez and Joey Rose to the Hops. All three players played for Hillsboro at the end of 2017. 

Hillsboro, which began playing in 2013, made the NWL playoffs for the fourth consecutive time last season. The Hops' home opener is 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 20 against the Eugene Emeralds. 


Three Las Vegas Summer League games are set, starting with a noon PT July 7 match against the Utah Jazz. 

Portland will then play the Atlanta Hawks at 2:30 p.m. PT on July 8 before finishing the preliminary round versus the San Antonio Spurs at 1 p.m. PT July 10. 

The first and third games will be at Cox Pavilion while the second is at Thomas and Mack Center.

After the prelims, teams will be seeded 1-30 for a playoff tournament. The tournament begins July 11 and ends with the championship game July 17.  

Each team plays at least five games. 

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