Hillsboro Hops End on Winning Note, Down Eugene Emeralds 3-2
The Hillsboro Hops (23-15) finished the regular season in a way they have become familiar with: winning a close game in the later innings. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Trevor Mitsui reached base by striking out on a wild pitch by Pedro Araujo when the ball reached the backstop and caromed towards first. Galli Cribbs, Jr., pinch-ran for Mitsui at first with the game tied at 2-2. BJ Lopez pinch-hit a single line drive to left putting runners at the corners. Pinch-hitter Gerard Hernandez slammed a sacrifice fly to left field and Cribbs easily came home for the go ahead run. The Hops defeated the Eugene Emeralds (21-17) 3-2.
The Hops initially took the lead in the bottom of the first as they did the night before by scoring two runs. Zach Nehrir scored from third with the bases loaded when Trevor Mitsui hit into a double play. Dansby Swanson moved to third on the play and came home on a grounder by Luis Veras.
The Emeralds were able to tie it up before the heroics of the eighth. Alberto Mineo scored from third on an Eloy Jimenez line drive to center in the third. Sutton Whiting scored from second on a PJ Higgens single to left in the fifth.
Hillsboro had already clinched the second half crown the night before. By beating the Emeralds in the last game of the season and Salem-Keizer Volcanoes defeating the Boise Hawks, Eugene was eliminated from the playoffs. This marks the second year in a row that the Hops have won both halves of the season. If the Hops can beat the Volcanoes in the opening three game series of the playoffs, Hillsboro will get a chance to defend their 2014 NW League Championship.
Tyler Mark started for the Hops and went five innings. Mark allowed two runs on six scattered hits. Jeferson Mejia (6-4) pitched three innings with no runs or hits allowed for the win. Kevin Simmons (S-1) pitched the ninth for the save.
The Hops managed only four hits but made them count for three runs. Zach Nehrir and Dansby Swanson both scored a run without plating a hit. Galli Cribbs, Jr., scored the winning run while pinch-running for Trevor Mitsui. Gerard Hernandez earned the only RBI for the Hops. Grant Heyman went 2 for 3.
Emerald Pedro Araujo (0-2) pitched the final four innings for the loss. Araujo relieved starter Carson Sands in the fifth with the score tied at 2-2. Pedro allowed the winning run on two hits.
The Emeralds did mange six hits but left nine men on base. Alberto Mineo went 1 for 3, scored a run and smacked a double. Sutton Whiting also went 1 for 3 and scored a run. Donnie Dewees went 2 for 4.
The first game of the divisional playoffs will be Monday at Salem-Keizer. The first home game for the Hops at Ron Tonkin Field will be Tuesday. The third game, if neccessary will be Wednesday at Hillsboro. The Hops took the season series against the Volcanoes 9-3. Tickets are on sale at the box office and at hillsborohops.com.
Note: Congratulations to Hillsboro Hops pitcher Carlos Hernandez who was named the NW League player of the year on Saturday. Carlos had a league leading ERA of 2.32 and led the league in strikeouts with 93 and innings pitched with 85.1. He is scheduled to start the second game of the playoffs which will be at home.
By Greg Stoker