Hillsboro Hops Lose Opening Game to Boise Hawks, Luke Morgan 3-2
Pitching again ruled the roost for most of the innings but the bats came alive in small spurts throughout the game. The Hillsboro Hops grabbed an early 1-0 lead and held it until the midgame. Then, it was the Boise Hawks who scored twice on Luke Morgan’s homer to take the lead. Despite the two teams trading runs shortly after, the scoring sprinkles dried up. The Hops lost the game, 3-2.
“We keep our backs together.” Explained starting shortstop Jose Caballero of how the team stays competitive. “We push each other.” The team is always looking at each other to keep their teammate involved, especially if something went wrong. “Somebody say something to him to bring him (back) to game.”
The go ahead run by the Hawks would prove to be the winning run by holding on to the slim one run lead for five innings. That task was split up between three Boise pitchers. Alec Byrd (W, 1-1) grabbed the win by holding the Hops scoreless for two innings after he gave up the Hops last run in the fourth, tying the game at 2-2. Following the winning pitcher, Jefry Valdez held on for the next two innings continuing the Hops scoreless streak. Finally, Hunter Williams (S, 1) came on for the save.
Jose Caballero and Keyshawn Lynch Try Spark
The three Hawks pitchers also combined to limit the Hops to three hits for the rest of the night. Valiant attempts were made by the swinging bats of the home team, but they could not put enough together to catch up the rest of the way. Jose Caballero and Keyshawn Lynch had the most success at the plate, both gathering two hits apiece. It was Lynch who scored the last Hops run in the fourth by leading the inning off with a single and coming home on Joey Rose’s double.
Jose Caballero was a part of the Hops’ other run which started it all back in the first. Tra Holmes led off the inning with an innocently-seeming walk. Tra soon used that platform to turn it into something more. Moments later, Tra was standing at second having stolen the base. While the pitcher, Javier Medina, was in his wind-up, the home crowd saw Tra successfully steal third base. Jose Caballero helped Tra the rest of the way home with his sacrifice fly to center field.
Luke Morgan Takes Fast Track
The difference may have been the extra base hits. The Hops only accounted for one and that was Joey Rose’s RBI double in the fourth. Meanwhile, the Hawks came up with eleven hits to the Hops seven. The visiting team also matched the home team’s double but raised them Luke Morgan’s two-run home run in the fourth that gave Boise their first lead of the game.
The Hops pitching staff put up some credible numbers with all three pitchers showing good control for the most part. Starter Ryan Weiss threw 21 strikes out of 28 pitches. So did Kai-Wei Lin who came on to shut down the eighth and ninth innings. Kenny Hernandez came on in the third inning and stayed for the seventh, pitching 47 strikes out of 61 pitches. An incredible 77% of pitches thrown came across the plate as strikes. But sometimes, it’s those other pitches that cause trouble. All it takes is one pitch that doesn’t go to where it was intended that can erase the five or six other pitches that baffled the batter. Like Luke Morgan’s home run. Kenny Hernandez (L, 2-2) ended up with the loss.
Always “try to do our best.” Jose Caballero offered. “If offense not working, focus on defense.” The spirit of the team is to never stop trying. Never give up. This team has been doing this all season. They are not about to stop now.
The loss dropped the Hillsboro Hops (21-10) to three games above the second place Boise Hawks (18-13). Game two of three will be tomorrow night at Ron Tonkin Field. The end of the first half of the Northwest League season is only eight games away. The Salem-Keizer Volcanoes are two games away from elimination leaving the tightening race between Hillsboro and Boise to create most of the suspense.
The evening was the second appearance of the Portland Mavericks and the guests of honor were the Champion Oregon State Beavers and a surprise guest. I’ll have a follow up article soon on both. Meanwhile, you can check out the story on the Mavericks and the Oregon State Beavers.