Hillsboro Hops Down Tri-City Dust Devils for Northwest League Title, 6-1
The Hillsboro Hops did it. The Hops beat the Tri-City Dust Devils 6-1 and took the 2015 Northwest League Championship. Carlos Hernandez, who was named the NW League pitcher of the year, held the Dust Devils nearly scoreless, only allowing Carlos Belen’s solo shot over the left field wall for the only score on Tri-City’s side of the ledger. In almost six innings, Hernandez gave up two hits and struck out seven for a 0.75 ERA in the championship round. Carlos also led the league in the regular season with a 2.32 ERA and 93 strike outs.
The game started out looking like it might be a pitcher’s duel but that ended after only one inning when the Hops erupted for four runs in the second. With one out, Luis Veras singled to left and moved to second on a passed ball by catcher Austin Allen with Alexis Olmeda at the plate. Olmeda joined Veras on base by walking setting up Josh Anderson. Anderson smacked a double to right field bringing in Veras from second and moved Olmeda to third giving runners at the corners and the game’s first score.
Nate Robertson stepped up to the plate and smacked a another double to right field scoring Alexis Olmeda and a hustling Josh Anderson. Sergio Alcantara brought Robertson home from second on a single to right.
After the dust settled, the Hops led 4-0 with a comfortable lead but comfort doesn’t guarantee a win. Dust Devil Carlos Belen reminded everyone of that fact with his solo shot in the bottom of the inning.
Until the top of the ninth, the rest of the game was mostly scattered hits among the groundouts, fly-outs and strikeouts from both sides. After Carlos Hernandez was relieved in the sixth with the score at 4-1, Cameron Gann, Alex Young and Taylor Clarke combined for the rest of the three plus innings to hold the Dust Devils to one hit the rest of the way. Hernandez (2-0) received the win.
Jose Castillo (0-1) started for Tri-City but was chased after the second inning when the Hops scored their four run barrage and took control of the game. Will Headean and Luis Hernandez took over and held the Hops scoreless on three hits until the ninth. Samuel Holland came on the mound in the eighth and allowed two more runs by the Hops in the final inning.
With one out in the ninth, Alexis Olmeda took a walk. Josh Anderson followed when he was hit by a pitch from Samuel Holland. After a Nate Robertson fly out, Sergio Alcantara poked a grounder into left for a single scoring Olmeda and moving Anderson to third. Alcantara snuck over to second on the throw back to the infield. Zach Nehrir stepped up to the plate and watched a wild pitch by Holland bring Robertson home from third.
The bats were few and far between on the Dust Devil side. Besides Carlos Belen’s solo shot, Henry Charles and Austin Allen also safely hit. As a team, Tri-City walked four times and struck out 14 times.
Sergio Alcantara went 3 for 4 and knocked in two RBI. Josh Anderson went 2 for 3, scored twice and knocked in a run. Nate Robertson scored once and belted two RBI. Alexis Olmeda scored twice. Luis Veras scored the game’s first run. Robertson and Anderson hit back to back doubles for the only extra base hits for the Hops.
With this championship, The Hillsboro Hops successfully defended their 2014 NW League Championship title against the Tri-City Dust Devils. The Hops ended the regular season with a league best 45-31. The Hops defeated the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes 2-1 in the first round while the Dust Devils advanced past the Everett Aquasox 2-0. The Hops defeated the Dust Devils 2-1 in the finals. Both Hops wins were by Carlos Hernandez.
Hillsboro has also won the last four halves of the season dating back to last year. The Hops won both halves of the 2014 season on the way to claim the 2014 crown and successfully helped defend the crown by taking both halves of the 2015 season.
By Greg Stoker