After the Hillsboro Hops took the game’s first lead earlier in the third inning 1-0, Starling Joseph stepped up to the plate with two outs and Isaias Quiroz on third. Joseph’s swing smoked the ball over the left field fence and grabbed the lead 2-1 for the Spokane Indians. The rest of the game was spent with both teams futilely trying to add to that score.
Turns out, they only needed to play the third inning. No other innings featured a score. Just a bunch of blank zeroes caused by the pitching staffs on both sides. Rather than the blips in the third, pitching was exceptional. None more so than the Strike-Meister who started for the Indians: Hans Crouse (W, 5-1). Crouse went a full five innings on 88 pitches striking out six for the win. Also, Bobby Eveld, Austin Pettibone and Emmanuel Clase held the Hops scoreless and hitless the rest of the way.
Emmanuel Clase (S, 7) earned his second save of the series but he has been hot since the Fourth of July. During those last eight games, Clase has either earned the save or got the win. The last time he gave up an earned run was against the Hops back in June, over a month prior. That has earned the young man an All-Star invitation this year.
Hans Crouse has been just as impressive, earning an All-Star bid to pitch for the Northwest League on August 7th. Crouse has 47 strikeouts in 38 innings which is good enough for second place in the Northwest League, two behind league leader Jose Espada of the Vancouver Canadians.
Hops Pitching Efforts Nullified
Almost as impressive were starting pitchers Ryan Weiss (L, 0-1) and Kenny Hernandez. Both teamed up to pitch all eight innings for the Hops. Hernandez even bettered Crouse’s performance by pitching five full innings and striking out six batters but, Kenny also kept the opposing team scoreless
The Hops lone run came in the top of the third. With two outs and no one on base, Jake McCarthy went almost all the way around the bases on his own. McCarthy sent a line drive up the middle to reach first base. Jake soon received an opportunity when first baseman Hasuan Viera missed the throw from pitcher Hans Crouse trying to pick off McCarthy. Off to second he went. Not satisfied, McCarthy stole third.
The last 90 feet proved to be the easiest. Geraldo Perdomo doubled to right giving Jake McCarthy time to walk home if had wanted. It became the last and only score for the Hops on the night. Despite the loss, the Hillsboro Hops still took the five game series 3-2.
Starling Joseph Showing Home Run Strength
The 6’3” native out of the Dominican Republic is showing the growth expected of him. Any player will face their first professional year with a period of getting adjusted. For some it is quick. For most it takes a while.
Starling Joseph had a slow start. Expected to be a power hitter, Joseph hit one home run his first season in which he had a little over 200 At Bats. While smacking a homer every 200 ABs will not impress, the second year showed marked improvement. Hitting five home runs in 2016 dropped it way down to a home run for every 43 at bats.
2017 dropped it even more by homering once every 26 at bats. This year, Starling Joseph is on pace for every 18 at bats. At that pace, he will have 13 homers in Short Season A ball. Now, his power is getting noticed. The 23-year-old is arriving.
With the loss, the Southern Division-leading Hillsboro Hops (5-3) maintained their one game lead over the second place Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (4-4) who also lost tonight. The win kept the Spokane Indians (5-3) tied with the Vancouver Canadians (5-3) on top of the Northern Division.
Hillsboro returns home August 1st, hosting the Vancouver Canadians for a five game series. Due to the All-Star break, the Hops will be on the road for 15 days after that. Likewise, The Spokane Indians will take to the road for a five game series with the Eugene Emeralds. Nick Allgeyer (0-0) will take the mound Wednesday night for the Canadians. Matt Tabor (1-1) will face him for the home town Hops.
The Reno Aces, the Diamondbacks AAA affiliate, feature eight former Hops players. Check out how they are doing.