The Hops Take It Out On The Canadians 8-1
The Hops break their losing streak. First, Blaze Alexander with his RBI double and homer putting the Hops out in front for good. Then, AJ Vukovich hit his double and 3-run homer to make it a no-doubter. The Hillsboro Hops punished the Vancouver Canadians 8-1.
The Hops Pent-Up Release
The eighth inning was the gem. Already up 4-1, the Hops weren’t exactly behind the eight ball. But, when the dam bursts after a week and a half of frustration, It’s kind of hard to avoid the flood. The Canadians couldn’t fight the currents and had to go with the flow
The Hops started out with the top of the order. Jorge Barrosa and Ronny Simon singled. Blaze Alexander, strong all night, doubled Jorge home for his fourth RBI of the night. After one out, AJ Vukovich belted his first home run for the Hops and it was good for three runs. All of this with the score already 4-1 before the inning started.
But, when you finally feel that first win in over a week coming your way, you want more. So an 8-1 win might have been a little overkill but it sure felt good to the home team. If it was mathematically possible for a win to equal eight losses, tonight would have gone a long way in balancing the equation.
Blaze Alexander Solid For The Hops
From the first swing of the bat, Alexander showed his power was on target for the game. With Barrosa on third and only one out, Blaze’s goal was to get Jorge home. Easiest way was the classic sac fly. His swing made solid contact and for a moment, many wondered if it would leave the yard. But, with left fielder Sebastian Espino easily settling underneath for the catch told differently. Albeit, a little closer to the warning track than expected.
Blaze’s two-run homer in the third inning had the fans looking towards left field again. Here the clue was LF Espino slowly getting closer to the fence. When he reached the chain link, he was still looking up in the sky with his glove relaxed. Leodany Perez previously singled and led the way home. Now, the Hops were up 3-0.
To complete the third act of the Blaze Alexander show, he was given another opportunity to bring some of his teammates home. Blaze did not disappoint. Barrosa and Simon stood at the corners. Alexander belted a double rolling to the wall. Barrosa scored. Simon had to stop at third. Blaze earned his fourth RBI and made the score 5-1.
AJ Vukovich Turning Potential Into Results.
The other impact tonight was third baseman AJ Vukovich. Before his first Hops’ home run following Alexander in the eighth, AJ smacked his double for the night to lead off the seventh. Cam Coursey brought him home with a sac fly.
AJ’s night was very similar to Blaze’s. Both belted a double and a home run. Blaze brought a run home with his sac fly. AJ came home on a sac fly. Blaze had four RBI. AJ had three. Finally, both scored twice and had two hits on the night. Thirty years ago, Oakland had the Bash Brothers. Tonight, the Hops have their version.
Blake Walston Tightens Reins
This was a night of good offense and good defense. No errors tonight after committing six of them last week in one game which set a new team record. No wild pitches after several the previous week. Last week, the Hops pitching staff couldn’t close the leak allowing runs to cross the plate. This week, they had Blake Walston, Gerald Ogando, Austin Pope (W, 1-0) and Liu Fuenmayor (S, 1).
Pope recently came to the Hops and is quickly climbing the K list. Fuenmayor is keeping a tight lid on the plate and becoming one of the team’s better closers. Ogando isn’t far behind the closer in the middle innings. Walston is making his place in the starting rotation.
Blake did allow Spokane’s Will Robertson to hit a solo shot in the fourth. But, that is the only run allowed by the Hops tonight. Take away the home run and the rest of Blake’s tenure on the mound is zero runs on two hits over almost five innings. Blake left before he could qualify for the win because of a limited pitch count. Walston retired his last four batters. He only faced four over the minimum.
Vancouver’s Sem Robberse (L, 0-2) started and took the loss.
Firstly, the win helped the Hillsboro Hops (43-53) gain on the Vancouver Canadians (44-53) to one half game behind. Secondly, if the Hops can make themselves a two game winning streak, they can regain fourth place. However, these two teams will be battling it out the rest of the way. So, don’t expect them to get too far apart. In other words, one will bring the other back into the contest.
Tomorrow’s game (Wednesday) is an afternoon game at 1:05 PM. Root Sports will carry it. You can also listen on 620 AM radio or follow me on Twitter for half inning updates. Consequently, you can find my Twitter handle below.
Correction: In this week’s column, I mention the Eugene Emeralds as this week’s foe. However, they are actually next week’s foe. In addition, the Vancouver Canadians are playing the Hops this week. Sorry for any confusion.