The Hillsboro Hops left no doubt as they demolished the Eugene Emeralds 11-1 Friday night. The Hops drew first blood in the second inning with four runs. Eugene was able to get on board the following inning but the Hops added a single run twice over the fourth and fifth innings. To drive an exclamation point to the score, the Hops entered the eighth up 6-1 and added five more runs before the dust settled and the final score lit up the scoreboard.
Hops pitching was equal to their bats. Tyler Keele (W, 5-4) started for the Hops and pitched well into the seventh but Keele started reaching a high pitch count (83) and was given the well-deserved rest. Tyler struck out six, walked only two and scattered four hits across the innings to go with the lone Emerald run of the game for the win.
With two out in the seventh and a runner on second, Juan Torres stepped up and struck out Jose Gonzalez to end the inning. Torres took the full eighth, allowing Eugene’s last hit of the night but keeping the visitors off the board. Cal Becker closed out the ninth.
In all, the Hops pitchers struck out eight batters, walked five and allowed just one run on five hits. Coupled with last night’s two-hit, 3-0 victory, Eugene has managed only seven hits over the last two games – both Hops’ wins.
Eugene’s pitching gave up the boat early. Javier Assad (L, 3-6) lasted 3.2 innings but gave up six runs on eight hits for the loss. Manuel Rodriguez pitched the seventh and part of the eighth during the Hops five run inning.
Every Hops batter contributed to the scoring even if only seven of the nine batters hit safely. Camden Duzenack had the hot bat going 4 for 5 and scoring twice. Ryan Grotjohn went 3 for 5 (two doubles), scored a run and accounted for four RBI. Tra’Mayne Holmes went 3 for 4, scored twice and knocked in a run. Duzenack, Daulton Varsho, Holmes and Dan Swain all scored two runs each. Luis Lara and Drew Ellis doubled for the Hops other two extra base hits. Ellis knocked in two RBI and Tim Susnara reached base twice on walks.
Add to that singles by Swain and Jorge Perez, scores by Lara and Perez to go with walks by Ellis and Swain, the Hops dugout was a very happy place to be.
Just two days ago, the Hillsboro Hops were in second place behind Boise and Eugene and suffered a loss to the Emeralds to open the series. In just two short days, the Hops have won twice, Eugene and Boise have lost twice, and the Hillsboro Hops (11-12) find themselves alone in first place of the Southern Division ahead of a three-way (10-13) tie for second with the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes sliding up into second place.
The Hops find themselves taking to the road starting Saturday to face the Volcanoes in a four-game series. Expected pitcher will be RHP Tyler Vail (0-2) for the Hops and RHP Stetson Woods (3-1) for the Volcanoes. The Emeralds will go home and host the Boise Hawks for a four-game series.
Hops notes: RHP Tucker Ward returns to the Hops bullpen. Ward first appeared in a Hops uniform in 2015 for four games, all in relief, earning a 1.59 ERA. 2016 saw Tucker spend the entire season in Hillsboro, appearing in 14 games as relief but ballooning to a 5.52 ERA. Towards the end of July, Tucker was placed on the 60-day disabled list.
This year, after Ward had been assigned to the AZL D-Backs on Tuesday, Tucker was deemed ready for the Hops and was assigned to his old team on Saturday.
By Greg Stoker