All-Star Game 2019: Pioneer League Homers NW League 11-7
All-Star Game 2019 turned out to be a fireworks show for the Boise, Idaho audience with four home runs and one triple for the Pioneer League to counter the three doubles from the Northwest League, 11-7.
Your local Hops made a showing for themselves and joined the All-Stars of years past as deserving of this honor. But, before I go to the individuals who represented Hillsboro, a brief rundown of why this certain All-Star Game is different than any other All-Star Game I have ever seen.
Unique All-Star Game
All-Star games are normally pitting one side of the league against the other side. The Western Conference against the Eastern Conference or the NFC versus the AFC. Everybody is in the same league. The closest might be the American League against the National League. But, not quite.
Here, it is a little different than anywhere else. In Major League Baseball, the American League plays the National League a few games each year. Here, the Pioneer League never plays the Northwest League except for the annual All-Star Game. Even in the playoffs, the two leagues do not face each other. So what is the connection?
The difference is the level. The Pioneer League is considered a Rookie Level. A step below the Northwest League. Meanwhile, the Northwest League is considered to be the Short Season A level or a step higher than the Pioneer League. It is almost like having the best college players going against the best high school players. And, in a sense, that is what is happening.
If you were drafted by MLB out of high school, chances are that you would end up on a Rookie Level team whereas if you were drafted out of college, it is more likely that you would debut in the Short Season A leagues such as the Northwest League.
Chance to Shine
This All-Star Game has also been providing a certain opportunity. It gives the young lads of the Rookie Level a chance to show what they have against the bigger boys of the Short Season A leagues. The Short Season A is the most likely place a young prospect will be promoted to join.
You would think that a bunch of mostly former college All-Stars would have no problem against the former high school All-Stars. But, for the last two years, it has been the Pioneer League showing off and showing up the Northwest League. This year, the youngsters beat the oldsters 11-7 in a power slugfest.
Little Brother Shows Up Big Brother
The top of the third inning was a portent of things to come. Down 2-0 in the early going, Christian Koss (Grand Junction Rockies) grounded out to short but gave Michael Emodi (Idaho Falls Chuckars) the chance to run home and get half of that deficit cut to one run. For all intents and purposes, it appeared that runs were going to be hard to come by. If you believed that, you would have been very wrong. Later, in the same inning, Jeremiah Jackson (Orem Owls) hit a grand slam over the left field fence. A five run inning grabbed the score and made it into a 5-1 lead for the Pioneers.
The Northwest took the lead back with a four run fifth but they didn’t have a hold of it for very long. The NW League piecemealed together four runs on three singles to take a one run lead. The very next inning, the Pioneers answered with four more runs of their own.
Top of the sixth, Eric Yang (Billings Mustangs) sliced a solo shot to left. A few batters after that, John Littell (Ogden Raptors) smacked a three-run homer to make it 9-6. Add a two-run homer by Pioneer Sam McWilliams (Ogden Raptors) in the eighth to go with an RBI double from Trevor Schwecke (Vancouver Canadians) in the bottom of the same inning and you will have the final score of 11-7.
That’s a lot of power for just one side. The Northwest League came up with its own power. It’s just that, with three doubles to show for it, their power wasn’t as often nor as long in the field. Most of that is credited to the pitching staff they faced. Rotating eleven pitchers on and off the mound, it is hard to narrow down the one standing above the others. Luckily for us, there is mathematics and a strict guideline to go by. For this year, Patrick McGuff (Missoula Osprey) pitched the fifth and most of the sixth to nail down the win. For the NW League All-Stars, Marcos Tineo (Hillsboro Hops) gave up the four run sixth inning for the loss.
Hillsboro Hops All-Stars
At first, it looked like the NW League All-Star lineup was going to be very Hops-centric. Five players in all named to the honor in Boise. P Luis Frias received the honor of starting the All-Star Game. But, he was (deservedly) promoted to the Long Season A Kane County Cougars on August first. We also had starter Kristian Robinson named to start in the outfield. But he was also (deservedly) promoted to the Cougars two days later.
The Hillsboro Hops, however, did have three more players named to the All-Star Game roster as reserves. But, Steven Leyton received his (deserved) promotion to Kane County the same day as Frias.
And Then There Were Two.
The question left: would the Hops two remaining reserves last long enough to play in the All-Star Game. P Marcos Tineo and OF Jesus Marriaga did make it to the game in time and represented the Hillsboro Hops. They also brought in teammate Deyni Olivero along with them as a replacement reserve.
All of the openings for starters due to (deserved) promotions or injuries gave Jesus Marriaga the chance to start at Left Field for the NW League. At his first at bat in the second inning, Marriaga came to the plate with runners at first and second with one out. Jesus whiffed on a swinging third strike for out number two. In the fourth, Marriaga walked with two outs to no effect. Trent Tingelstad pinch hit for Marriaga in the fifth, effectively ending Jesus’ All-Star Game turn.
In that same inning, though, another Hop came into the game. Pitcher and late replacement Deyni Olivero. Many argued that Olivero should already be on the roster. After all, he led the league with his 1.76 ERA. Add to that, he leads the NW League in wins (7). The wonder of why he wasn’t named already was perplexing. However, the point was moot. Selected for the All-Star Game in Boise, Olivero had the entire fifth inning to show he belonged.
His inning was not without bumps however. Two of them in fact. But, first, Olivero only needed three pitches to strike out Sam McWilliams (Ogden) swinging. The first bump, Liover Peguero (Missoula) singled to right. Olivero’s next victim, Christian Koss (Grand Junction) watched a called strike three sail past him. Second bump turned out to be Andy Pages (Ogden) singling to left and putting runners at the corners. Finally, Deyni’s last victim of the evening, Jeremiah Jackson (Orem) struck out swinging for the third strikeout of the inning.
Marcos Tineo Slammed
Olivero’s teammate, Marco Tineo did not turn out so fortunate. In fact, the start of his inning was an onslaught that seemed would never end. On Tineo’s first pitch of the inning, Eric Yang (Billings) sent a missile flying over the left field fence. Tineo’s second pitch of the inning grounded to second by Harvin Mendoza (Great Falls) but a throwing error allowed Mendoza to reach first safely. On Tineo’s fourth pitch of the inning, Micah Bello (Rocky Mountain) singled to left leaving runners at the corners. Finally, on the fifth pitch of the inning, Jon Littell sent a three run homer to left. Five pitches equalled four runs and still no outs.
It was a breaking point. Could Tineo find a way to stop the bleeding or would he succumb to the challenge? He only had moments before Sam McWilliams stepped to the plate. Tineo steeled himself for the challenge. When McWilliams did step to tehplate, Tineo struck him out swinging. Eddy Diaz followed with a soft grounder back to the mound and the easy toss to first. Finally, Brandon Lewis, called out on strikes, ended the inning.
The four runs allowed on two home runs may have handed Marcos Tineo the loss for one night, but he came away with something more valuable than a win. The ability to show that he can end an inning no matter how far behind you fall. Tineo didn’t give up and that tenacity is what can win you a game. Everybody saw a glimpse of that tonight.
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