2019 Champion Hillsboro Hops Defeat Tri-City Dust Devils 3-1
The 2019 NW League champion Hillsboro Hops have added another one to their trophy case. In their short seven season history in Hillsboro, the Hops have now won it all in 2014, 2015 and now: 2019. Winning it three years out of seven is hard to beat.
After games with high scoring alternating with suffocating pitching from both sides, the final game came down to another pitchers duel. Only, instead of two pitchers facing each other for most of the game, this game featured smothering bullpens to go along with the starting pitching.
Tri-City threw a crew of six pitchers at the Hops. Three of them kept the Hops hitless during their stay on the mound: Seth Mayberry, Chris Lincoln and Tom Colletti. Nick Thwaits (L, 0-1) started the game and went four innings before leaving with a 2-1 deficit for the loss.
No matter how well the Dust Devils pitched, they couldn’t match the Hops. Starting, Conor Grammes was on a short leash and went three innings. His beginning was inauspicious, walking his first batter who scored an unearned run off a later single. But, Grammes recovered striking out three of his first five batters. Ryne Nelson (W, 1-0), also on a short pitch leash, covered the next three innings and locked down the Dust Devils by striking out six batters out of his nine outs. After the fourth inning, Tri-City hit safely one more time.
The last three innings were saved for the veteran aces in the bullpen. Justin Garcia came to the mound with almost 36 innings from the regular season under his belt, holding a 2.52 ERA with 42 Ks. Tonight, Garcia faced seven batters, one over the minimum, with three strikeouts.
Eduardo Herrera closed out the last three batters in the 9th making it look easier than it was. During his regular season, Herrera staked his reputation on recording eight saves. Good enough for second in the league. After inducing Luke Becker into a groundout, Herrera struck out Nick Gatewood and Sean Guilbe to help his team win the trophy.
Dash For Trophy
But, the Hops couldn’t have won it all with at least a couple of runs on the board. Tonight, they came up with three the night after being blanked by the Dust Devils. Many swung hard and early showing their aggressiveness at the plate.
Like the bullpens stringing together tight innings, the Hops batters did their best to be together on the base paths. Three different Hops scored their three runs. Another three different Hops knocked them in. Corbin Carroll reached base all four times he came to the plate, including his RBI double. Jorge Barrosa singled and scored in the seventh for the final score.
Lyle Lin doubled and scored in the fourth. Ryan January knocked Lin home with his RBI double. Tristin English knocked Barrosa home with his RBI single. Ricky Martinez took first base in his first at bat when he was hit by a pitch. He later scored from Carroll’s double.
No matter where the Dust Devils looked, they didn’t know where the next shoe could drop.
Making The Playoffs
The Hillsboro Hops made their record breaking sixth trip to the playoffs in a row pay off big time. The season started with a close shave when they lost the first half championship by just one game to the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. Like many of their games during the regular season and the playoffs, the Hops came back strong in the second half winning the second half championship by four games.
That strong finish propelled them into the first round where they swept the Volcanoes 2-0. That of course, set the stage for one of the tightest five round series in recent history.
The Hops took the first game 5-3 on the strength of Andy Yerzy’s three-run walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth. But, the Dust Devils returned the next night taking the game 9-1 in no small part due to Jonny Homza’ grand slam in the first. The two division champions both took a strong punch from the other’s home run hitter and both teams remained standing.
The third game was a pitching duel. Tyler Holton earned extra time on the mound with his performance through his normal pitch count. He was allowed one more inning and held the Dust Devils to zero runs with nine strikeouts. The game remained scoreless until the ninth inning. Tristin English broke the scoring drought with his two run homer. But the game wasn’t won until Mailon Arroyo saved the ninth in a similar fashion to Herrera tonight.
But, the Dust Devils did not go away. Game four was another slugfest that Tri-City won 6-0. However, the Hops failed to stay with the game plan of scoring many runs for the only shut-out in the series.
It came down to the final game. The only other pitcher’s duel in the series and the 2019 champion Hillsboro Hops won them both.
Stay with the Minor League Sports Report for recaps and more on minor league teams across the country. It has been another enjoyable season. I look forward to next year when we get to do this all over again. But, before I go. Let me say it one more time: The 2019 champion Hillsboro Hops!!!