Hillsboro Hops, Connor Grey Leave Canadians Behind, 6-1
The Hillsboro Hops took an early lead and never looked back as they downed the Vancouver Canadians 6-1. The game was closer than the final score indicated. The Canadians didn’t score their lone run until seventh inning but that made the score a tight 3-1 before Hillsboro erupted for a three-run smackdown in the eighth that put the game out of reach.
It was Camden Duzenack’s score in the fifth that proved to be the winning run. He managed to reach base after being hit by a pitch and then scooted to second on a wild pitch by Dalton Rodriguez. Camden came home on Pavin Smith’s RBI single.
Camden also had a role in the three-run eighth with his two-run blast to left and Connor Owings on board. Just before that, Owings’ single brought home Tim Susnara who had reached on a double.
The lone score for the home team came against starting pitcher Connor Grey (W, 4-2) who lasted until the seventh. It was just the latest quality start for the young man from New York. In six and a third innings, Grey gave up one run with four hits and five strikeouts. Connor stands in a close second place on the team with 29 strikeouts, just one behind Tyler Keele’s 30 punch outs.
Eudy Ramos and Pavin Smith continued their hot plate appearances with their second multi-hit game in a row. Ramos went 2 for 4 while Smith added 2 hits with five plate appearances, scored a run and knocked in another. Connor Owings joined the club going 2 for 4 himself with a run scored and an RBI. In all, the Hops managed nine hits to Vancouver’s five safe passages.
Rafael Pujols, Matt Brill and Anfernee Benitez were other reasons for the rare offense of the Canadians. They teamed to allow only one more hit for the northern club and no runs for nearly three innings of relief work.
Dalton Rodriguez (L, 2-4), started for the Canadians and allowed three runs by the fifth inning. Rodriguez left the mound in the top of the fifth with the score 2-0, one out and two men on base. Before the relief came, Dalton managed to hit a batter (Camden Duzenack), walked another (Bryan Araiza, threw a wild pitch and struck out a batter. An inherited runner, Pavin Smith, eventually scored for the third run marked against the starter.
The win for the Hillsboro Hops (17-14) kept pace with Southern Division leading Eugene Emeralds (18-13). The Hops remain in a second-place tie with the Boise Hawks. With the loss, the Vancouver Canadians (18-13) maintain their two-game lead over the Tri-City Dust Devils for first place in the Northern Division. It also drops them into a tie with Eugene for the best record in the Northwest League.
Both teams return to Nat Bailey Stadium for the third game of the five-game series. Hillsboro currently leads the stand 2-0. Expected starting pitchers are RHP Riley Smith (2-2) for the Hops and LHP Brody Rodning (0-0) for the Canadians.
Hops notes: Jeferson Mejia returns to the Hillsboro Hops from the Kane County Cougars. Mejia had appeared with the Hops in both 2015 and 2016. The 6’7” native of the Dominican Republic had pitched in 18 games, all as relief. Jeferson has struck out 27 batters in only 23.2 innings.
By Greg Stoker