Eugene Emeralds, Javier Assad Strike Out Hillsboro Hops, 5-2
Tonight’s game at PK Park was the same recipe as last night’s 2-1 loss as the Eugene Emeralds defeated the Hillsboro Hops 5-2. Again, both teams had similar numbers for the most part. Eugene outhit the Hops by only one, 9-8, with a double for each team. Each team committed one error on the night. Both clubs left eight men on base.
But here is where they went their different ways. Eugene batters struck out for only five times on the night while Hillsboro bats whiffed for a baker’s dozen (13). One Hops batter walked compared to six for the Emeralds. The Emeralds smacked two home runs to the Hops zero. The most telling point might be the Hops going 0-5 with runners in scoring position (RISP) while Eugene caused some action going 2-6.
Starting pitcher Javier Assad (W, 1-2) went five innings for the win allowing one run on six hits and striking out nine or almost two per inning.
The Hops pitching had a rougher night. Starter Jhoan Duran (L, 1-1) was tagged for three runs on six hits before being chased in the third inning. Rafel Pujols relieved in the eighth and finished the ninth retiring all four batters he faced, striking out two of them. Two weeks into the season, Pujols still has yet to allow an earned run standing tall on the mound with a 0.00 ERA.
A week ago, Hops batters were scoring double digit runs and the electricity between batters was contagious as hit was followed by hit. This week, the bats have dropped and what appears to be contagious is whatever bug has stolen their mojo at the plate, especially when faced with a runner on second or third.
To be fair, every night there are a few Hops that shine at the plate. Tonight, Cole Thompson was back in the lineup where he went 2-3 with a double. Including his sole walk for Hops’ batters, Thompson reached base three of the four times he appeared at the plate. Eudy Ramos also had a multi-hit game.
It was the third inning that bore the fate of the night. The score was 1-0 Hops. Facing Jhoan Duran with two outs and a runner at third, it appeared that Aramis Ademan had whiffed for the third strike and the end of the inning. Walking back to the dugout, manager Jesus Feliciano hustled out to argue for his player. Both umps deemed that it was a foul tip and Ademan returned to the plate from the dugout where he sent the next pitch out of PK Park for a two-run blast over the right field wall.
That was only the beginning. The two-run blast was followed by two consecutive singles followed by two consecutive walks, the last bringing Miguel Amaya home. Eugene did not trail the rest of the game.
The Hops would manage one last score in the ninth when newcomer Tra’Mayne Holmes sprinted home on a wild pitch by Junior Marte for the final score.
With the tying run on deck and two outs in the ninth, manager Shawn Roof was faced with a decision. For the night, center fielder Billy Endris came to the plate four times. Each time, he struck out. Roof substituted Yan Sanchez who has been one of the most dependable bats for the Hops this year. Junior Marte struck him out for the final out of the game.
With the loss, the Hillsboro Hops (6-7) remain in a second-place tie with the Boise Hawks, two games behind division leading Eugene Emeralds (8-5). Both teams return for the final game of the three-game series Wednesday night. Expected pitchers are RHP Mitchell Aker (0-2) for the Hops and RHP Ernesto Camargo (0-1) for the Emeralds.
Hops notes: LHP Anfernee Benitez was promoted to the AAA Reno Aces.
Tra’Mayne Holmes made his Hops debut tonight going 1 for 3.
By Greg Stoker