Eugene Emeralds, Michael Cruz Blast Hillsboro Hops, 9-1
The Hillsboro Hops go into the All-Star break on a two-game losing streak, falling to the Eugene Emeralds 9-1. Like the previous game, Eugene hit hard and early taking a 9-0 lead before the Hops could even find the scoreboard.
Starting pitcher Luis Madero (L, 1-1) was rocked for six runs in the first two innings before retiring the side in the third. When the fourth came around, the wheels fell off again with another three Emerald runs crossing the plate. Eugene started the inning with three consecutive doubles. All three would score before Madero was relieved with the score 9-0 and one out. Matt Peacock, Breckin Williams, Matt Brill and All-Star Erbert Gonzales combined to silence Eugene the rest of the way keeping them scoreless on only two hits.
Despite managing only three hits for the game, the Hops did manage to have nine batters reach base, in part thanks to four walks and three errors by the Emeralds.
Bailey Clark started for Eugene going five innings and allowing the Hops lone run in the fifth. Before then, Clark allowed a single by Bryan Araiza in the first and a Drew Ellis double in the fourth. It was the fifth that brought in the bullpen. With the bases loaded, a throwing error by Emerald third baseman Austin Filiere allowed the Hops Ryan Dobson to score. Ryan Tufts managed the third and final hit, a single, by a Hops batter during the scoring.
In came Ben Hecht, Andry Rondon, Casey Ryan and Brian Glowicki to silence the Hops bats for the rest of the night.
Eugene batters powered eleven hits past the Hops pitching including five doubles. Michael Cruz added a grand slam in the first with two outs to make a powerful opening statement for the host team. Jose Gonzalez had the hottest bat going 3 for 4 with a double, RBI and scored two runs. Cruz added another double to go with his grand slam damage in the first. Aramis Ademan and Austin Filiere also had multi-hit games.
The loss dropped the Hillsboro Hops (4-3) into a first-place tie with the Eugene Emeralds (4-3). The Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (3-4) had a chance to join in a three-way tie for the lead at the break but lost to the Boise Hawks (2-5). All teams of the Northwest League are off for Monday leading up to the All-Star Game on Tuesday.
After a Wednesday off for travel, league action will resume with the Hops beginning a five-game homestand with the Vancouver Canadians. Starting pitchers are yet to be determined. The Emeralds will hit the road for a five-game series against the Northern Division leading Spokane Indians.
In between will be the third annual All-Star game between the Northwest and Pioneer leagues, featuring seven Hops All-Stars including two starters: first baseman Pavin Smith and third baseman Eudy Ramos. They will be joined by fellow teammates Daulton Varsho (C), Yan Sanchez (2B), Riley Smith (RHP), Tyler Keele(RHP) and RHP Erbert Gonzalez (RHP).
Hops notes: Eugene has proved to be the Hops’ nemesis. After completing three series of nine games before the All-Star break, Eugene has won all three series, seven games to two. The Hops have been outscored 29-53. Ceding the first half championship by one game to the Hops, the Emeralds have proved to be the Hops biggest challenge so far this year.
By Greg Stoker