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Hops season ends on high note
The Hillsboro Hops ended their season with an 8-5 win over Everett on Sunday, Sept. 11, and in the process finished the year taking four of six games from the home AquaSox.
There will be no postseason for this year's Hops. At 60-70, they finished with a losing record for the second straight season since being promoted to High-A. They now own a 112-130 overall record at High-A.
But manager Vince Harrison said 2022 was a successful season for the Hops, looking past the wins and losses.
"Big picture, it was a good year," said Harrison. "We've got to constantly remind ourselves that our job is player development, and while winning is important, our job is to prepare these guys for the big leagues, and we only had three guys who spent all this year here. That's probably my favorite thing about this year."
Harrison added that he was pleased with how his team responded this past week despite having little to play for.
Even with the Hops being out of the playoff race, the manager said his players comported themselves like professionals and fought until the end. Harrison is proud of them for that.
"I told the guys last week that while they weren't in a playoff race, they were still playing for something," the manager said. "Somebody in the crowd might be seeing you for the first time, so make sure you're painting a picture you want them to see. And we had some big innings, big at-bats, and some great responses. I was really happy with how it went."
After losing Game 1 of the series in walkoff fashion, Hillsboro responded to take the next three games and the series finale on Sunday thanks in large part to some lively bats and dominant relief pitching.
Shortstop Sheng-Ping Chen hit .400 with a home run and seven RBIs in the series, while Adrian Del Castillo went 9-for-25 with a home run, four doubles and nine RBIs over the six games.
Additionally, the combination of pitchers Yilber Diaz, Justin Martinez, Christian Montes De Oca and Hugh Fisher combined to allow just one run in 16 innings of action, while striking out 28 and walking just seven.
Harrison said all of it was great to see, not just because of the team's quality work on the field, but also because of their ability to do so despite some unfamiliar and precarious positions.
"We had some big innings and rallies," the manager said. "We threw some pitchers in some spots we hadn't usually done, but the response was pretty amazing."
The trip to Everett wasn't all business for Harrison, who was able to spend some time with his brother Josh, a utility player for the Chicago White Sox. The Sox were in town playing the Seattle Mariners on Sept. 5 and Sept. 6.
Harrison said he and a few of the Hops' brass attended the Sept. 5 game, meeting some of the players on the field during batting practice and watching from the stands during the White Sox' 3-2 win.
Josh Harrison is a 12-year MLB veteran who spent nine years with the Pittsburgh Pirates, part of a season with Detroit, and the last two with Washington and Oakland before landing in Chicago this year.
"We went to the game and met up for dinner later and had some good food and some laughs," Harrison said. "It was a good time and a great week."
The Hops' series win over Everett left their second-half record at 31-35, good for third place in the league and 12 games behind first place Eugene. Hillsboro's overall record of 60-70 was fourth in the six-team league.
Eugene won both the first and second halves and will play Vancouver in the Northwest League championships series.
News and notes
Hops third baseman A.J. Vukovich was promoted to Double-A Amarillo on Sept. 6. Over his first five games, he batted .300 with a home run and four RBIs.
Former Hops outfielder Jake McCarthy continues his torrid stretch in Arizona, batting .368 with five home runs and 29 RBIs over his last 30 games entering play this week. McCarthy is batting .305 with eight home runs, 41 RBIs and 17 stolen bases in 80 games at the MLB level this season.
University of Oregon alumnus and former Hops pitcher Ryne Nelson made his second MLB start against the Dodgers on Monday, Sept. 12, and was again impressive, allowing no earned runs on two hits, while striking out six in six innings of work. In two starts for Arizona, the 24-year-old has yet to allow a run in 13 innings, giving up just six hits while striking out 13 and walking two.
Last week's results:
Everett 5, Hillsboro 4
Hillsboro 8, Everett 4
Hillsboro 8, Everett 7
Hillsboro 4, Everett 2
Everett 9, Hillsboro 8
Hillsboro 8, Everett 5
Sheng-Ping Chen batted .400 with a home run, seven RBI and three stolen bases in six games versus Everett.
Adrian Del Castillo went 9-for-25 with four doubles, a home run and nine RBI in six games versus Everett.
Pitchers Yilber Diaz, Justin Martinez, Christian Montes De Oca and Hugh Fisher combined to allow just one earned run on seven hits, while striking out 28 and walking seven in 16 innings of work.
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