Hillsboro Hops Demolished By Volcanoes 8-2
Largely were the Hillsboro Hops demolished by the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes Tuesday night, 8-2. The portend in the first inning of Franklin Labour’s solo shot foreshadowed the night to come. The deep homer sailed over the center field fence well over 400 feet and bounced off the bottom of the scoreboard, back onto the playing field. Labour, who hit his league leading 13th homer of the season, is on pace to break the NW League’s season record of 25 homers in one season.
While it didn’t create the sparks of Roy Hobb’s homer in The Natural, it did seem to release the pent up frustration of the Volcanoes who had lost both games to the Hops to open the series. After that, the Volcano bats went on to score seven more runs sometimes in bunches, sometimes in short one run bursts. S-K poured it on the Hops demolished chances.
The Hops bats were right there with them. In fact, the Hops had one more hit (9) than the Volcanoes (8). The difference might have been that the Hops hits were all singles, never more than two in a single inning. The Volcanoes countered with three doubles to go with Labour’s towering shot.
Ricky Martinez went 2 for 3 with a walk on the night and scored the Hops final run in the bottom of the ninth. Ryan January preceded him going 1 for 3 and scoring the Hops first run of the night. Success beyond that was modest for the Hops. In the first inning, Jorge Barrosa and Steven Leyton led off with back-to-back singles to give hope but it wasn’t to be. Kristian Robinson and Ricky Martinez also paired for a couple of singles in the sixth.
No One Reason
The difficulty was not focused in one area of the Hops demolished fate. Plenty of balls were hit into the outfield but most of them with too much air underneath or directly to one outfielder who needed very few steps to get underneath the ball. Twice, the lead batter would reach base only to be taken off by a fielder’s choice.
But, for one inning, the magic seemed to appear. In the ninth inning, the Hops stepped up to the plate behind by eight runs and only three outs to catch up. Most teams would write it off yet still appear to give the old college try. The Hops did one better. They actually attempted a full blown rally.
Eight Hops batters went to the plate in a Don Quixote-ish stab at the lead. With their bats pointed to the pitch like a lance poking a windmill: a single, followed by a walk, followed by a hit batter, followed by a walk and followed by a single. Still, no outs were recorded. Any method of reaching base safely was up for grabs.
Then the last gasp deflated like a balloon. Second baseman Simon Whiteman for the Volcanoes backpedalled for a catch in shallow centerfield for an out. Again, Whiteman backpedalled, this time to shallow right for the grab and the second out. Faced with two outs and bases loaded with six runs still to make up, the Hops struck out like the Mighty Casey at bat. The Volcanoes were never really threatened but the Hops at least made them think.
Jacob Lopez (W, 2-2) started for Salem-Keizer and lasted five scoreless innings for the win. Sixth round draft pick, Andrew Saalfrank (L, 0-1) opened the game with one inning on restricted pitches. Saalfrank struck out the side but had one blip: the deep, deep solo shot by Franklin Labour to earn the loss.
The loss dropped the Hillsboro Hops (20-12) into a first place tie with the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (20-12). The teams with the two best records in the league lead the the next team in the division by five games with six games left to play.
Tomorrow night, the Hops will travel to the Eugene Emeralds for a three game series. Afterwards, both teams will travel to Hillsboro to play another three game series against each other to finish off the first half of the season. The first half champion will get a bid to the playoffs against the second half champion. If the Hops win either half, they will break the NW League record by making the playoffs for their sixth consecutive year.
Tomorrow Night’s Starters
Ryne Nelson will start on the mound for Hillsboro. The second round draft choice last appeared on Saturday where he started and went one inning in limited pitches. Nelson struck out one and gave up one hit in the no decision.
Eduarniel Nunez will start for the Emeralds. Last Thursday, Nunez pitched four scoreless innings and gave up three hits in the no decision. On 6/14, Eduarniel pitched a scoreless two innings against the Hops where he gave up one hit in another no decision.
Salem Keizer will head home to start a home and away double series with the Boise Hawks.
Stay with the MInor League Sports Reports for game recaps throughout the season. Follow me on Twitter for half inning updates throughout the home games.