Hillsboro Hops win series at Tri-City
The Hillsboro Hops are back in town, playing — and winning — an unusual Monday, July 4, game against the Eugene Emeralds to kick off their current homestand.
They're coming off their first series win in a month. In fact, last week's series visiting the Tri-City Dust Devils was their first series win since the last time they faced Tri-City in Pasco, Washington.
The Hops took four of six games at Gesa Stadium.
Early in the first game of the set on June 28, things didn't look great, as Hillsboro starter Ross Carver ran into a third-inning buzzsaw that he couldn't escape. But even after giving up four runs, the Hops could chalk up a moral victory as reliever Marcos Tineo came in with the bases loaded to strike out Edwin Yon and strand three runners. Hillsboro pitching held Tri-City the rest of the way, and the Hops put up crooked numbers in each of their last three ups to come away with a convincing 8-4 win. The win went to Gerald Ogando in relief.
On June 29, it was the Hops' turn to score all of their runs in the third inning. All of the damage was done by Hops slugger A.J. Vukovich, who kept up his hot hitting with a two-run triple and then scored on a wild pitch. But while the Dust Devils couldn't keep their lead in Game 1, the Hops staved off the Dust Devils. Starter Jamison Hill pitched into the sixth inning, giving back two runs, but the Hops bullpen again was impregnable. Called upon to pitch the ninth for his first save of the season, 22-year-old Christian Montes de Oca accomplished the rare feat of striking out four batters in an inning; Yon reached base while striking out on a wild pitch.
The Dust Devils broke through in the June 30 game. While starter Scott Randall took the loss, giving up three runs in 3 2/3 innings, the Hillsboro relief corps actually allowed most of the damage. Julio Frias threw away a pickoff throw in the seventh inning, allowing Kyren Paris to score on what would have been a harmless groundout. In the eighth inning, Bobby Ay melted down, hitting one batter with a pitch and walking four more. After Ay walked in the first two of four runs charged to him, Hugh Fisher came in and walked two more while uncorking a run-scoring wild pitch. Tri-City won 8-2.
On the first day of July, the Hops had their revenge, winning 8-1 behind a strong start from Luke Albright. Right fielder Fox Semones blasted a grand slam in the second inning, and shortstop Ryan Bliss made it back-to-back homers to give the Hops a five-run lead in a matter of seconds. The big win didn't come without some pain, though, as the Hops' slugging third baseman Vukovich was lifted from the game after running out a groundball in the sixth inning. He was replaced on defense and didn't appear in the rest of the series. (He did return to the lineup Monday, July 4.)
Once again on July 2, the Hops did their damage in the second inning, scoring all three of their runs on the day. Making a start days after his fireman relief appearance, Tineo limited the Dust Devils to two runs but wasn't eligible for the win, as he exited before completing five innings. Instead, it was Andrew Saalfrank who picked up the dub, striking out four over 2 2/3 perfect frames. Montes de Oca earned his second save of the season and of the series.
In the series finale, the Hops led 4-3 after five innings — three of those runs coming on a bases-clearing double by second baseman Jarrod Watkins in a long top of the first inning — but relievers Fisher and Jos Santamaria couldn't hold the lead, combining to give up three runs in the sixth inning and one more in the seventh.
This week, the Hops are home at Ron Tonkin Field. While Monday is typically an off day for minor league teams, they played the Eugene Emeralds in an Independence Day game with a postgame fireworks show, before taking Tuesday, July 5, as their weekly "off day." The series will resume Wednesday, July 6.
June 28: Hillsboro 8, Tri-City 4
June 29: Hillsboro 3, Tri-City 2
June 30: Tri-City 8, Hillsboro 2
July 1: Hillsboro 8, Tri-City 1
July 2: Hillsboro 3, Tri-City 2
July 3: Tri-City 7, Hillsboro 5
2B Jarrod Watkins was a steady presence for the Hops in Pasco, driving in five runs on five hits, including a trio of doubles.
RP Gerald Ogando didn't allow a baserunner over two multi-inning relief appearances, pitching 4 1/3 innings while striking out seven.
RP Christian Montes de Oca earned his first two saves of the season while striking out six.
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