The Hillsboro Hops failed to pack a punch in their luggage for their final game of the season. The Hops lost to the host Boise Hawks 5-0.
Behind their starting pitcher, Alec Byrd (W, 4-1), the Hawks kept the Hops bats away from home plate only giving up four hits during the game. After Byrd’s five innings, Ethan Westphal came on for two and surrendered that last two hits the Hops would get. Jared Gesell and Moses Ceja both pitched one inning each for a hitless end of the night.
Two of the four Hops hits were for doubles. The first one by Camden Duzenack led off the game and gave a promising start to the night. However, Duzenack was thrown out trying to steal third. Perhaps a sign of how the night would end.
Tra’Mayne Holmes singled in the fifth with one out and moved to second on Bryan Araiza’s walk. But. Like Duzenack, was caught stealing third after pitcher Byrd tried to pick him off second. The following inning, Luis Lara singled with two outs and never made it to second.
Tim Susnara had the Hops final hit of the night when he opened the seventh with a double. For the first and only time of the night for the Hops, Susnara made it to third on Daulton Varsho’s ground out. The Hops also had as many walks as hits (4) but none threatened to change the scoreboard. Hillsboro struck out eight times.
Tyler Vail started and went five innings for the loss. Even though all five runs were scored against the right hander, only two runs were earned. But, with the no support from Hops batters, even those two earned runs were enough for the win. The final three innings were evenly split one apiece between Tucker Ward, Nestor Ramirez and Matt Brill. All three teamed up to give up two hits and no runs. The seventh inning was Nestor’s Hops debut as he was called up from the AZL D-Backs the day prior.
The Hawks succeeded where the Hops failed by swatting the horsehide for nine hits, highlighted by Austin Bernard’s solo homer in the second for the Hawk’s only extra base hit. Danny Edgeworth, Bernard and Aubrey McCarty all had multi-hit games for the home team. Bernard also had two RBIs.
Despite the loss, the Hillsboro Hops (18-18) ended up winning the second half crown when the Eugene Emeralds lost to the Salem-Kaiser Volcanoes 11-1. That doesn’t make a difference as Eugene and Hillsboro were already slated to meet in the first round of the playoffs. Eugene was the only team within reach of taking the second half championship away from the Hops but the Emeralds still qualify as having the second best overall record in the Southern Division.
The win gave the Boise Hawks (17-19) a tie for second place with Eugene but the Hawks (37-39) lost the tiebreaker of the overall season record to Eugene (39-37). The Hops ended up with the overall record of 41-35.
The first game will take place Tuesday down at PK Park in Eugene. Both teams will travel to Hillsboro for a Wednesday game two. If needed, a third game will be played at Ron Tonkin Field on Thursday. Tickets are on sale now.
By Greg Stoker