18 Strikeouts, Everett Aquasox Down Hillsboro Hops 3-0
18 strikeouts were too many for the Hillsboro Hops to fight back. Compared to three runs by the Everett Aquasox spread out over seven innings, the visiting team had more than enough to win, 3-0. The fact that the game remained close throughout was an illusion.
The game started with a roar that no one expected to be the game winning run at the end of the game. Zach DeLoach led off the top of the first with a triple. He soon trotted home on Austin Shenton’s RBI groundout to second baseman Cam Coursey. With two strikeouts to make three outs for the half-inning, the power and offense seemed to be more of a blip than a precursor to a high scoring game. That is what the game turned out to be.
Aquasox starting pitcher Brandon Williamson allowed no runs on two hits though the first four innings. He would have come back for a fifth but he already mounted 66 pitches to get that far. What kept the scoring down for Brandon turned out to be his nine strikeouts without a walk. He faced three batters over the minimum.
Hops starting pitcher Matt Tabor matched Williamson strike for strike and more with no walks. His ten
strikeouts eclipsed his adversary. But, Tabor’s downfall proved to be the three hits he did allow over six and two thirds innings. The first hit allowed was the aforementioned triple in the first inning that came back to bite him before he could end the inning.
The other two hits allowed by Tabor came in the fourth inning. Julio Rodriguez doubled and scored on Carter Bins RBI double. All three hits allowed by Tabor went for extra bases. That was the story of the game. Offense blips mixed into the greater mixture of strikeouts in a walkless batter ready for the oven. Despite a fine performance on the mound that would have won most games, Matt Tabor lasted for 81 pitches to take the loss.
Still, the 18 strikeouts continued mounting. David Ellingsen took over for the fifth and sixth innings adding to the total. David struck out four of the eight batters he faced and allowed a non-threatening single in the fifth. Because Williamson did not last to the fifth, let alone through the inning, Ellingsen took the win as pitcher of record in the fifth.
Even though Williamson struck out nine, Hops batters worked pitch counts high before striking out. In the first inning, Cam Coursey and Corbin Carroll led off with seven-pitch counts each. By the time the inning ended, Williamson burned through 23 of his 66 pitches. In the second, Brandon Williamson struck out the side but it took him 16 pitches to do it. He used up another 18 pitches in the fourth, his last.
Matt Tabor entered the seventh inning with his pitch count already at 69. The inning started fine, striking out Tyler Keenan. But the second batter, Carter Bins again, smacked his first pitch for a double. Another extra base hit. That was the decision moment. Tabor had lasted 81 pitches striking out ten batters and issuing no walks. It was time to hand the ball over to a fresher hand. In hindsight, maybe they should have left it with Tabor.
Joe Jones came in to finish the seventh. His wild pitch allowed Bins to third. When catcher Nick Dalesandro let a sinker get past him and to the backstop, Bins easily scored from third. Two fly outs later and the inning ended.
18 Strikouts Handcuffed Hops All Night.
The Aquasox pitching did not let up, even with a short bullpen for the night. Brendan McGuigan pitched two innings and faced the minimum six batters — and striking out half of them.
Jarod Bayless pitched the ninth and earned the save but not before he gave the Hops a small sliver of hope. Buddy Kennedy sliced a one-out single and put the potential tying run on deck. But, Bayless dashed that hope — by fittingly striking out the last two batters for the final total of 18 strikeouts.
Eugene, at the top of the standings, lost in Spokane tonight. With the win, the Everett Aquasox (3-2) moved to within one game of Eugene. The Hillsboro Hops (2-3) loss kept pace with Eugene remaining two games behind.
Both teams meet Sunday afternoon at 1 PM for the final game of the series. The Hops have a chance to tie the Aquasox and salvage a 3-3 split with a win.
For another look at this season schedule and how it works, take a look at my last month’s column explaining it all. However, I should have typed it in pencil as it has already changed. The Hops were normally scheduled to play the Emeralds in Eugene starting this coming Tuesday. Due to a conflict at PK Park, Eugene’s stadium home, Eugene will be coming up to play two games in Portland for a Monday evening doubleheader. First game will start at 5 PM and last seven innings. The second game will start some time after that. Then, both teams will get two days off.