The Hillsboro Hops spotted the Tri City Dust Devils with a three-run lead in the first inning. Then, the Hops scored nine unanswered runs the rest of the way to defeat the visitors 9-5. It all started with Tra Holmes lead-off double and scored on Ryans Dobson’s RBI single. By the end of four innings, the Hops led the game, 7-3. After that, both teams matched each other run for run.
Both teams went through five pitchers each, trying to keep the other under control. Cole Bellinger (L, 1-3), younger brother of Cody Bellinger, started for the Dust Devils and gave up six runs in three innings for the loss. Hops Matt Tabor gave up three runs in the top of the first but settled down after that. The starting pitcher could not make it past the fifth inning, however.
West Tunnell stepped in for the final out in the fifth, throwing two pitches and getting Owen Miller to fly out to center fielder Tra Holmes to end the inning. Josh Green (W, 2-0) came on to end the seventh inning with just one pitch and stuck around for the next inning and the win.
It was the offense that won the game. The hard hitting Hops bats have been a trend lately. “We’ve been doing a lot of velo BP.” Tra Holmes said. “(This machine) spits out this hard fastball” Tra gave the velo machine credit for their latest focus.
It worked very well. Last night, the Hops piled up 18 hits Tonight, they piled up another 13. Five doubles and two home runs exemplified the power that goes with it. Francis Martinez sent a booming blast over the 400 foot sign on the center field fence with a 105 MPH escape velocity. In the third, Joey Rose sent a solo blast dead center over the left field fence, landing at 348 feet away from home plate and an escape velocity of an even 100 MPH.
All nine Hops batters reached first base safely with either a hit or a walk. Tra Holmes went 2 for 3 and scored three times. Ryan January went 2 for 3 and scored twice. Ryan Dobson had two hits and three RBI. Jorge Perez went 2 for 4 with a double and a score.
The defense would also be a reason for building up the confidence. After last night’s sharp plays robbing Dust Devils of hits, tonight featured several stops that came out of nowhere. “A lot of early work.” Tra said referring to fielding practice. The hard work is paying off.
One of those plays came when Tra came rushing from center field at the same time as Jake McCarthy (2018 first round draft choice) came rushing from left field to chase down a ball heading to the gap. Tra was able to get to it in time for the out. By the time, their momentum had stopped, both payers looked as if they had traded places with each other. But, speed is more than just talent.
“I trained at the University of Florida.” Tra admitted. He keeps up those valuable lessons even today. There is one thing he has left behind. “I threw up every day.” Speed is also hard work.
The Hops have won three games in a row after several other winning streaks. The team has built up confidence with each win. “The pitching staff gives us confidence.” Tra said. The center fielder also acknowledge his fellow Hops in the field but came back to “It’s mainly the pitching staff.”
The last element of success Tra Holmes shared with me was about inspiration. So, who inspires Tra Holmes? “Mallex Smith” Tra answered. Many Hops fans have heard of Mallex Smith. He is the starting center fielder for the Tampa Bay Rays. So, what is it about Mallex that inspires Tra?
Tra’s answer was more than just talent or style. It was simpler and more deep than that. “We grew up together. We still talk every day.” Tra was silent for just a moment. But, it was enough for me to see him looking at his friend in his mind. “We are very similar.” The young man is on his way to following his friend.
The win increased the Hillsboro Hops (19-8) lead over the Boise Hawks to four at the top of the Southern Division. The loss dropped the Tri City Dust Devils to one game behind the Northern Division leading Vancouver Canadians.