Ryan January Drove Hillsboro Hops To Championship Round
Ryan January drove home three of the six Hops runs in a continued hot streak of his own. Tonight, January’s efforts helped the Hillsboro Hops defeat the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes 6-3 and sweep the Volcanoes in the first round of the playoffs. Now, the Hops move on to the second and final round for the NW League championship.
The Hops are getting hot at the right time of the season. They showed it in tonight’s game on the mound as well as the plate. The pitching staff suffered only three blips in the game but, even considering those three hurdles, the game appeared under control — for the most part.
Starter Conor Grammes suffered the first blip when the Volcanoes’ Luis Toribio singled, Brandon Martorano walked and Tyler Flores doubled home SK’s first run of the game in the second. But, Nelson regained control and induced the next three batters into ground outs, though another run scored on one of the plays.
Only a solo shot in the seventh by Harrison Freed notched another run on the scoreboard but it was surrounded by plenty of outs. Much like Yorliss Rodrigues’ solo shot the previous night.
It turned out to be the third, final and scoreless blip at the end that drew the most concern.
Last Out Hardest
Eduardo Herrera (H, 1) earned eight saves during the 2019 regular season. Enough to establish a well-deserved reputation. But, even the best will hit a blip every now and then. Herrera’s blip naturally happened at the end of the game. The well-respected closer struck out his first two batters. Tyler Flores stepped up to the plate representing the third and final out. But, Flores also smacked a double in the second to score the Volcanoes’ first run.
This time, Tyler Flores delayed the inevitable by walking on a full count. Then, Harrison Freed, who hit a solo shot two innings earlier, singled. Jeff Houghtby, who’s ground-out in the second drove home SK’s second run, walked to load the bases. Now, the tying run stood at first with the winning run, Jairo Pomares, coming to the plate.
Another hurling fastballer came out of the bullpen. Mailon Arroyo (S, 1) needed two pitches to get Pomares to pop up to Tristin English at third to end the game and the first round, sending the Hops to the championship series.
Ryne Nelson (W, 1-0) pitched fourth through sixth innings for the win. Justin Garcia (H, 1) used nine pitches to get through the eighth in a blink of the eye. The Volcanoes’ starter Caleb Kilian (L, 0-1) went four innings but gave up the Hops’ first three runs early for the loss.
Time For January
While the Hops pitching kept the Volcanoes at bay, their bats propelled them in a hurry. The tone set in the first inning. But, first Jorge Barrosa reached first safely on an uncharacteristic error by first baseman Tyler Flores. The Hops and Volcanoes led the league in least errors committed on the field. Both teams showed excellent poise on the field through the season. Tonight was not the night for the SK gloves. Only two errors came about, both by SK, but they impacted the game.
With Barrosa on board, Tristin English singled to left where the second error happened. This time by left fielder Armani Smith. Barrosa took third when Smith couldn’t get a quick handle on the ball. English took second on the throw in from the outfield. The stage was set for the first appearance of January. Ryan January drove a single to center and the Hops had their first two runs on the night.
January’s next success came in the fifth when Ryan January drove home Jorge Barrosa, who had walked, with a double. At that point, Ryan January drove in three of the four Hops’ runs. It would be enough for the Hops win. But, just to be safe, last night’s hero, Liover Peguero doubled January home. The final touch came in the seventh when Jorge Barrosa came home a third time on a wild pitch in the seventh.
The Hillsboro Hops move on to the second round where they will play the winner of the Spokane/Tri-City series. The third and deciding game between those two will be played tonight. The first game of the championship round is played Saturday. The Hops will host their opponent on Saturday and Sunday. The next three games are scheduled for the other’s home field.
The Hops are returning to the championship round for the first time since 2015 when they won their second of back to back titles.
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