Hops Make it Two in a Row Over Indians, 6-4
Hops make it two in a row as they are starting to look like the Hops of old. It’s only two games but it is nice to see as the Hillsboro Hops defeat the Spokane Indians 6-4. And they did it by taking the lead and never looking back.
Nick Bush, Brandon Pfaadt Hot Start
But first, the game started as if the batters of both teams wondered if they would ever get a chance to become a base runner. Starting pitcher for Spokane, Nick Bush, threw 18 pitches in the first inning including three strikeouts. Take away the four-pitch walk to Blaze Alexander and the Indians’ pitching in the first looks near perfect striking out three.
However, if the Indian’s pitcher looked near perfect, the Hops starter, Brandon Pfaadt (pronounced “fought”), making his Hops debut, did look perfect. Well, almost. Only nine of his ten pitches were strikes.
So, after the first inning was over, it looked like the game would be over quicker than normal and maybe you could make those ten o’clock late dinner reservations across town. That look didn’t stick around. The second inning turned out the opposite of the first.
Spokane’s Michael Toglia started with a single and soon scored on a wild pitch from third. Brenton Doyle and Hunter Stovall followed with singles surrounding a flyout to center. Two flyouts and a pop up ended that before a second runner could cross the plate. But, the Indians scored a run and had three runners on base.
Hops Make it a Contest
Of course, the Hops had to answer in their half of the inning. With one out, Tristin English doubled followed by a string of base runners joining him on the base paths. Nick Dalesandro singled and English scored on a fielding error by Indians’ left fielder Luke Morgan. Eduardo Diaz walked, putting runners at the corners. Tra Holmes singled home Dalesandro. Jorge Barrosa gained base on a fielder’s choice but Holmes scored during the out. Three runs. Five base runners. The thought of a shut out, let alone a no-hitter, vaporized.
Whenever Spokane came close to tying the game, the Hops would add more distance to their lead. In the top of the third, Willie MacIver doubled home Niko Decolati making it 3-2. In the bottom of the third, Axel Andueza singled home Blaze Alexander (who had doubled himself) to make it 4-2.
Hops Make it 6-3
Top of the fifth brought the only home run of the night when Brenton Doyle poked one over the left-centerfield fence to make it a one-run game again, 4-3. The bottom of the seventh saw Barrosa triple and then come home on a throwing error by Indians’ catcher Willie MacIver. Then, Blaze Alexander singled home Leodany Perez to make it 6-3.
For the final score, 6-4 came in the top of the eighth when Luke Morgan hit a come-backer that bounced off of the pitcher Joe Jones and the mound. The ball bounced and died on the turf between the mound and the plate. Jones quickly tried to grab it and throw to first in the same motion. But, the combination of a slight bobble from Jones and Morgan’s fleet feet proved too much and Morgan was safe. Meanwhile, Toglia scored from third.
Brandon Pfaadt’s Debut Win
All of this action lightened up the crowd but it does not mean that the pitching went out the window. Starter Brandon Pfaadt (W, 1-0) threw 98 pitches over six innings. When he left the mound for the day, he left the game with a 6-3 lead and what would be his first win at the High A level. His first inning as a Hop amazed the crowd and showed promise for the future.
Nick Snyder (H, 2), after a disastrous appearance his last time, acquitted himself well with a short 1-2-3 inning. The surprise, however, came the next inning when Kai-Wei Lin (H, 2), normally a lock down reliever, had trouble getting strikes across the plate. After loading the bases with a single from Toglia and two walks for Kyle Datres and Stovall, Joe Jones (S, 6) made an early appearance.
Hops Make Opportunity: Joe Jones League Leading Sixth Save
Normally reserved for the ninth inning, Jones came in with the bases loaded and one out. His first pitch was the come-backer that scored the game’s last run. The second pitch after that turned into a double play and got the Hops out of trouble. The ninth inning was easier. Jones dealt with a runner on first (from a walk) by inducing a groundout to first, a strikeout and a fly out to center. Game over. The Hops win. And Joe Jones earned his league leading sixth save of the young season.
Indians’ starter Nick Bush (L, 4-2) also went six innings and struck out six. But, he also allowed the Hops first four runs which earned him the loss. Boby (pronounced “Bobby”) Johnson came in for one inning and gave up the Hops’ last two runs. Dugan Darnell closed the eighth shutting the Hops down for the last three outs.
The win accomplished several things for the Hillsboro Hops (18-25). Their win coupled with Eugene’s loss, cut the Ems’ lead over them to 9 ½ games. A double bonus playing the team above them in the standings (Spokane Indians, 20-25) is that the Hops also catch up with fourth place. The Hops now sit one game back of Spokane and can tie for fourth place by winning tomorrow night’s game.
Tomorrow night’s game will be game four of the six game series which the Hops now lead 2-1. Start time is 7:05 PM. You can watch it on MiLB.tv, listen to it on 620 AM radio or follow me on Twitter for half inning updates.
In the meantime, you can always read my game recaps the morning after the game. While you’re at it, enjoy the other win in this two game win streak.