Week 13 : 2021 Hillsboro Hops Playing Like Winners
Week 13 ended with the Hillsboro Hops still precariously perched a half game ahead of the fifth place Vancouver Canadians. However, the third place Spokane Indians are only one and a half games away in front. But, with the Canadians and Hops meeting for next week’s six game series, positions can swing from third place to sixth this coming week.
You Say Good-Bye, I Say Hello
This last week saw the leaving of local son Carson Kelly (Westview High) after a three-day stint on a rehab assignment. In his last game in a Hops uniform, he matched up against another local son from the same high school in Kenyon Yovan. In high school, Kenyon started his high school career the year after Carson graduated so the two never played together. This time around, Carson’s last game in a Hops’ uniform was also Kenyon’s first in a Dust Devils uniform. They may not have been able to play together as teammates in high school but they were able to face off against each other in the pros.
This week also saw the return of Spencer Brickhouse from his concussion protocol. Before entering the time off, Spencer had been hot and heavy. His bat woke up, raising his batting average from .237 to .244 while also raising the home run total from five to nine. Not only that, his power is returning. In the last week, he hit two towering homers. First over the Blue Monster in center and second almost over the netting behind the right field fence. Ron Tonkin Field will soon run out of hurdles for his home runs to leap over.
The week also featured two memorable home runs by Eduardo Diaz. First, his grand slam on Wednesday that was the difference maker in the Hops’ win. Second, his ninth inning, two-out last chance home run that sent the game into overtime.
This week saw old Hops leave and new Hops arrive. The promotions coincide with the Hops doing better overall at the plate and on the mound. To paraphrase an old axiom: Success breeds promotions.
Now, let’s look at the games of the last week:
Week 13: Game#1 Hops lose 1-6
The Dust Devils took command in the third when they sent seven men to the plate and scored three runs. After one out, the next four men hit safely: Livan Soto (double), Carlos Herrera (single), Jordyn Adams (triple) and Francisco Del Valle (double).
The Hops scored their lone run in the sixth when Carson Kelly doubled and scored on Tristin English’s RBI double. Dust Devils take series lead: 1-0.
Week 13: Game#2 Hops win 10-2
Hops took charge in the first inning scoring five runs, four of them on Eduardo Diaz’ Grand Slam. By the time they led 5-0, there was a runner on base and still no outs in the inning. After that, the two teams traded runs a couple of times and then the Hops relief corps shut down the Dust Devils for good. Series tied: 1-1.
Week 13: Game#3 Hops win 6-1
This time the five run explosion came in the sixth inning. Eduardo Diaz added another run to start off the scoring binge making it two nights in a row for a Diaz homer. Earlier, Spencer Brickhouse cemented his return from the injured list with a towering homer over the Blue Monster in center field. The Dust Devils took an early 1-0 lead in the first and remained silent the rest of the game. Hops lead series 2-1.
Side note: The Hops moved into a fourth place tie with Vancouver.
Week 13: Game#4 Hops Hops win 5-2
The game started out as copycats. The top of the fourth saw Tri City score a run. Then, in the bottom of the inning, the Hops scored an answer run. Likewise, in the fifth, both teams scored one run again. Except, this time, the Dust Devils responded by replacing their starting pitcher. Then the Hops scored three more runs when Axel Andueza cleared the bases with his double. Hops lead series 3-1.
This game was originally scheduled for June 13th but was rained out. Actually twice. Third time’s a charm. For the Hops, it wasn’t worth the wait. The Dust Devils opened up in the first and didn’t stop until seven runs were across the plate. The Hops managed to score their one run in the sixth, long after the horses left the barn. Hops led the old series 3-2 but they ended up tied 3-3.
Week 13: Game#5 Hops lose 7-8
It was almost a story book ending. Down several runs. Slowly catch up through the last half of the game. Down by one run in the bottom of the ninth with two outs. One of your most powerful home run hitters steps up to the plate for the team’s last chance. Tonight, that would be Eduardo Diaz. And he hits the home run that was on everyone’s mind. Only, it just tied the game and sent it into extra innings. No one has won the game yet.
Tri City scored two more runs in the tenth daring the Hops to do it again. The Hops managed to get one more run. Tri City breathes a sigh of relief knowing how close they came. Hops lead the series 3-2.
Week 13: Game#6 Hops win 4-1
Pitcher’s duel made us wonder if one run would be enough to win the game. Luckily, the Hops didn’t think so as they erupted for three more runs in seventh. That way, the last minute home run from local son Kenyon Yovan (Westview High) in the ninth didn’t hurt. But, it did ruin the shutout. Win for Brandon Pfaadt who pitched seven scoreless innings. Spencer Brickhouse hit another towering shot to right, this time ten feet from the top of the netting. Hops win the series 4-2.
Week 13: Player Achievements for the Week
Overall, the Hops became a little more efficient this week. It was perfect timing as the Hops did slide in a few categories from the previous week’s high. This week, there were less at bats (212-208), less doubles (15-7), still no triples for the second week in a row and less total bases (89-77). But, the Hops increased where it mattered most. This week saw increases in runs (28-34), hits (53-54), RBIs (24-30) and home runs (4-5).
Notice that a few of those gains are miniscule like one more hit or one more home run. But, the telling is in the runs (6 more) and the RBIs (6 more). That is the sign of hitting when there is a runner on base and smart base running. It is not a surprise that the Hops came up with the series win this week. This may have been their most efficient week of the season.
Run, Blaze, Run
Individually, those gains showed up impressively on the stat sheet in other ways as well. Blaze Alexander led the team in runs scored this week with an amazing 8 runs. That averages to more than one run per game. It is nice when you can count on a teammate to score at least one run per game. For one thing, it is less likely to be a shut out. Even more impressively, Blaze scored four of those runs in one game. In that game, Blaze reached base all five times at the plate. Four of those times, he crossed the plate for a run. The other time? Blaze was stranded at third base, 90 feet away from his fifth score of the game.
Nick Dalesandro impressed before this week. And then, he took it another level higher this week. The team’s leader in batting average, Nick went 8 for 18 for a .444 batting average raising his stat from .248 to .272, a climb of 24 percentage points. Along the way, Nick added seven RBIs to go with his three scores. Nick did more than just hit the ball. He did it efficiently.
Grand Slam + clutch homer = Player of the Week
However, the player of this week has to be Eduardo Diaz. Not only for dazzling clutch performances but also for his massive amount of power he displayed this week. He came up from Visalia earlier this season with a reputation as a slugger. He has not disappointed anyone. This week alone, he hit a grand slam in the first inning before there were any outs recorded. That four run lead was more than the Dust Devils could overcome that game. Then, later in the week came his Hollywood moment. In the bottom of the ninth, two outs and the Hops down by one, the fans in the stands were already thinking home run before he stepped into the batter’s box. One swing later, the ball sailed over the fence and the game was tied, going into extra innings.
While the emotion Eduardo gave the game was among the strongest of the season, his numbers were almost unbelievable. Nine hits, tops amongst the team. 19 total bases. Not just tops of the team. No one else was close. Second highest was Spencer Brickhouse with eleven total bases. And it took him two towering home runs to help him get that close. Diaz had three home runs and almost twice as many hits. This week, Eduardo Diaz was “The Slugger Who Couldn’t Be Stopped” (coming soon to a park near you).
Starting Unit Becoming Solid
With four wins, we have four winning pitchers. This week, they were Brandon Pfaadt, Slade Cecconi, Nick Snyder and Drey Jameson. Of those four, Nick is the only non-starter. Also, the day after Jameson earned his win, he also earned a bus ticket to Amarillo to play for the AA Sod Poodles.
Of the relievers, five different pitchers did not allow a run for the week. The amount of innings pitched varied from one to three. They are Bobby Ay ( 3 IP), Nick Snyder (3), Kyler Stout (2), Yaramil Hiraldo (2) and Denson Hull (1).
Among the starting pitchers, Justin Vernia rated the best ERA with 1.80 over five innings for the week. Next came Brandon Pfaadt at .245 ERA. Close behind at a 2.57 ERA is Drey Jameson. Slade Cecconi kept the scoring down to a 3.33 ERA.
Brandon Pfaadt totaled 12 strikeouts in two games. Also average six K’s per game are: Kai-Wei Lin, Slade Cecconi and Drey Jameson. However, team totals came down to 60 Ks in the week, down from 79 the week before.
Sparking the later innings, the relievers with the best K/IP are in order: Denson Hull (2.00), Kyler Stout (2.00), Kai-Wei Lin (1.66), Yaramil Hiraldo (1.50) and Liu Fuenmayor (1.33).
Starters ranked as follows: Brandon Pfaadt (1.09), Slade Cecconi (1.00), Blake Walston (0.86), Drey Jameson (0.85), Justin Vernia (0.80) and Josh McMinn (0.00).
Week 13: The Season So Far:
Home Run Chase
Dominic Canzone, who is doing well up in Amarillo. was leading in several categories: hits (41), RBIs (22) and total bases (70). However, it didn’t take long for his teammates to catch up and surpass him. Axel Andueza, who was close behind Dom when he left, now holds the lead with 45 hits. Tristin English took over in RBIs (25). And Spencer Brickhouse (75) and Eduardo Diaz (73) really took over in total bases.
With all of this “The King is Dead” (promoted to Amarillo) “Long live the King” (Axel, Tristin, Spencer and Eduardo), the one constant is still Blaze Alexander. Last week, he led in five categories. This week, he still leads in those same five categories: games (55), at bats (209), runs (37), walks (32) and doubles (11). The motto here is the three things you can always count on: “Death, Taxes and Blaze Alexander”.
Also leading the team are newcomer Danny Oriende (.883) in OPS, Spencer Brickhouse (.797) in OPS with more than 12 at bats and Reece Hampton (3) in triples.
Finally, we have two co-leaders in home runs (9). Who else but Eduardo Diaz and Spencer Brickhouse.
Slade Cecconi Wins Fourth Game
In the pitching department, among active leaders, Slade Cecconi upped his team-leading win total to four wins this week. Brandon Pfaadt is close behind with three.
The newcomers are fireballing their way to the top in the ERA department. Justin Lewis is on the top with a 2.40 ERA. Followed by Bobby Ay at .284 ERA. Liu Fuenmayor rounds out the top three with a 3.00 ERA. Al three are relievers.
For the starters, Brandon Pfaadt is shutting down the plate with a 3.07 ERA. Blake Walston (3.75) and Slade Cecconi (4.12) finish off the top three.
Strikeouts lost its leader this week. Drey Jamesson was on top of the active leaders with 77 Ks until he was promoted to AA Amarillo. Now, Slade Cecconi is left with the mantle of the most current strikeouts with 63. About a dozen behind is Brandon Pfaadt with 50 and Blake Walston with 41.
Week 13: Transactions
7/27 Spencer Brickhouse activated from the 7-day injured list
After completing his concussion protocol, Brickhouse was activated in time to start the weekly series against the Tri City Dust Devils. As of Friday’s doubleheader, Brickhouse is batting .272 since his return and has already added another home run to his total. When he was injured, he was on a hot streak with the power at the plate. It seems to be returning as the home run he hit cleared the Blue Monster in center field. The Blue Monster is 20 feet tall and 400 feet away from home plate.
7/28 Ricky Martinez transferred from 7-day to 60-day injured list
With less than two months left in the season, even with time served on the 7-day, it is unlikely that Martinez will return in time for the end of the season. With no word yet on whether there will be a playoffs for sure, it is possible that we may not see Ricky again this season.
7/31 Drey Jameson promoted to the AA Amarillo Sod Poodles
The day after Jameson won his second game in a row, Drey got the promotion to the next step. Drey first suited up for the Hops in 2019. Since then, he has only worn the Hops uniform. This year, he has struck out 77 batters in only 64.1 innings. His 3.92 ERA is among Hops leaders of active starters.
Week 14: the Coming Week
As mentioned previously, The Hillsboro Hops will be going on the road to face the Vancouver Canadians at… Ron Tonkin Field. The Hops are a half game ahead of the Canadians and in fourth place. Can they hold on to fourth place? Maybe catch up to Spokane who is only a game and a half ahead of them for third? The three teams are only two and a half games apart from each other. I have a feeling that anything can happen. You might want to stay off the coffee this week.