Eugene Emeralds, Alonso Garcia Control Hillsboro Hops, 2-1
The Eugene Emeralds won the battle of opportunities over the Hillsboro Hops, 2-1. The Hops missed their opportunities by leaving eleven runners stranded on base. Only in the first and fourth innings did Hillsboro fail to get a base runner on board.
Eugene left only four runners aboard for the game but made the most of their opportunities by scoring two runs in the second despite only having three hits for the game. The Hops pitching did their best to make scoring difficult for the home team.
Starting Hops pitcher, Riley Smith (L, 1-1), lasted five and a third innings before being relieved. The score was down 2-0 with one out and one man on. Kevin Ginkel and Cal Becker finished the game striking out three and keeping the Emeralds hitless and scoreless for the rest of the way.
Eugene’s two runs came in the second when Jhonny Bethencourt walked and moved to second on Kwang-Min Kwan’s single to center. When center fielder Billy Endris couldn’t get a handle on the elusive bouncing ball, Bethencourt snuck over to third. He then came home on Jose Gonzalez’ grounder. A wild pitch by Riley Smith gave a chance for Kwan to double the score. Jose Gonzalez and Rafael Narea claimed the other two hits for the Emeralds. Eugene’s only extra base hit, a double, was by Narea leading off in the first inning.
Those two runs held up for the low scoring game. The Hops did manage to get within one run in the seventh when Paxton De La Garza singled and moved to second on Stephen Smith’s walk. From there, Paxton hurried home when Eudy Ramos slapped a single into left.
The Hops did get close enough to bring the go ahead run to the plate in the ninth with the tying run in scoring position. But, like the rest of the night, the Hops could get someone on base but they couldn’t bring any of them home except for the one run in the seventh.
Hillsboro smacked three doubles in the game. Daulton Varsho doubled in the second with two outs but made it no further in the inning. In the fifth with one out, Paxton De La Garza doubled and did make it to third before the inning ended. Finally, in the sixth and with Eudy Ramos on board with a single, Yan Sanchez doubled Ramos over to third with no outs. From there, all they could do was watch two teammates strike out and a third ground out to short.
Alonso Garcia (W, 1-0) went five fine innings for the win. He struck out six but allowed four hits and one walk. Luis Aquino (S, 3) came on for the last batter and induced Eudy Ramos to ground out to second to end the game.
Despite the lack of scoring, several Hops batters were productive at the plate. Paxton De La Garza went 3 for 4 with a double and scored the lone run for the visiting team. Eudy Ramos went 2 for 5 and drove De La Garza home. Six Hops batters did hit safely in the game for a total of nine hits..
The two teams had been tied atop the Southern Division before this three-game series started. With the loss, the Hillsboro Hops (6-6) fell into a second-place tie with the Boise Hawks, one game behind leader Eugene Emeralds (7-5). Both teams return to PK Park for the second game of the series. Expected pitchers are RHP Jhoan Duran (1-0) for the Hops and RHP Javier Assad (0-2) for the Emeralds.
Hops notes: 2017 draft pick Tim Susnara started as DH and felt right at home. PK Park was his home field during his stay as an Oregon Duck in Eugene.
Hillsboro Hops Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer-Hillsboro Hops
By Greg Stoker