The Hillsboro Hops made a two-run lead stand up for the victory over the visiting Tri City Dust Devils, 2-0. Pitching and defense on both sides kept the game going quickly. The game was over in two hours and twenty-one minutes. One of the quickest games this season.
Kevin McCanna (5-1) came on in relief in the third inning and pitched five innings of two-hit ball with nine strikeouts for the win. After giving up his first and only earned run this season in his last appearance, Kevin’s blanking of the road team dropped his ERA down to 0.27 in 33.1 innings, giving McCanna the team lead for those who have pitched more than four innings.
Brian Shaffer (starter), Matt Peacock and Matt Brill teamed up for the other four innings of four-hit ball with no walks and four strike outs. Brill (S, 2) closed out the ninth to earn the save.
Hops batters were outhit by the Dust Devils 6-5, but Hillsboro made their hits count. In the first inning, Camden Duzenack singled before Pavin Smith came on and smacked a double down the right field line. Camden hustled all the way around the bases and scored the games’ first run just ahead of the tag.
Drew Ellis was even more efficient in the seventh when he stepped up to the plate with one out and crushed his eighth home run of the year over the left field fence.
Duzenack led the Hops batters with two hits on the night, singling in the fourth to go with his first hit. Ryan Grotjohn singled in the sixth but never made it to second base.
Luis Asuncion had the only extra base hit for Tri City with his triple in the second inning with two outs. Shaffer forced Matt Batten into a ground out to short to get out of the inning. Asuncion also had the only multi hit game for the northern division rivals with a single to go along with his two-hit night.
The win stretched the Hillsboro Hops (18-17) lead in the Southern Division to two games over the Boise Hawks and Eugene Emeralds. With three games left in the second half, the Hops magic number is two. Any combination of two Hops wins or two losses by both second-place teams will make the Hops the second half winner.
Since Hillsboro has already won the first half crown (they are already in the playoffs), if the Hops win the second half, their opponent will be the southern division team with the second best overall record spanning both halves. If the second half ended today, that would be the Emeralds who have a two-game lead over the Boise Hawks.
The loss dropped the Tri City Dust Devils (20-15) to one game behind the northern division leading Spokane Indians with three games left. The Dust Devils’ only hope to make the playoffs will be to overcome the Indians lead.
The Hops travel to Boise for the final three games of the season after a day off on Thursday. Expected pitcher for the Hops is RHP Tyler Badamo (1-2). The starting pitcher for the Hawks is yet to be determined.
Tri City returns home for a three-game series with the Vancouver Canadians.
Hops notes: If Boise can overtake the Hops and win the second half championship in the final three games, it will make them the Hops opponent in the first round. If that happens, the Hops will remain in Boise for the first game of the playoffs before returning home for the second and possible third game.
The Hops are conducting an online auction to help victims of Hurricane Harvey. Houston native Kevin McCanna has recorded a video to ask fans to donate. All funds up to $10,000 will be matched by Minor League Baseball Charities.
You can listen to Kevin here at: https://mail.aol.com/webmail/getPart?uid=27197621&partId=2.4&scope=STANDARD&saveAs=IMG_2243.MOV.mov
You can bid here at: http://hillsborohops.milbauctions.com/gallery.cfm
Featured bid items are a team-signed jersey and a team-signed bat.
By Greg Stoker