Hillsboro Hops Wallop Dust Devils 10-2
Hillsboro Hops wallop the Tri City Dust Devils in a night of extra base hits, an inside the park home run and more. Everyone contributed in one way or another. Whether a hit, score or RBI, it didn’t matter which Hop stepped to the plate. Each Hop was a threat to wallop some more. Final score: 10-2. There was no doubt left behind. At least for the night.
Ryne Nelson Overpowers Plate
Ryne is known for his domination of the plate. He struck almost half the batters he faced (8 of 18) and walked only one. Normally, one to use an economy of pitches, the Dust Devil bats ran up the pitch count with full counts and fouled a multitude of pitches whenever they could. By the time Ryne Nelson reached the minimum five innings to qualify for a decision, he had already spent 75 pitches. Time for the cavalry.
Wes Rodriguez, a dominant reliever with his arm as well as his towering presence on the pitching rubber, came to the mound for two innings. Afterwards, Wes allowed the second and final run for the Dust Devils.
On came the closer Julio Frias for the last two innings. All night, Tri City batters ran up pitch counts by fouling off and reaching full counts. Every inning, the Hops pitchers had the endurance to outlast the foe at the plate. In sum total, the three combined for 13 strikeouts with 159 pitches for the game.
Hillsboro Hops Wallop First Inning
Eager to get started, the Hops batting lineup were aggressive at the plate. It showed more in the first than any other part of the game. By the time the inning was over, the Hops batted around the order with one extra to spare: Buddy Kennedy got to bat twice in the inning.
His first at bat was the most impressive. A night after he smashed a grand slam, Buddy led off with another homer, this time a solo shot to left. Blaze Alexander followed with a triple for the second night in a row. Eduardo Diaz’ sacrifice fly brought Alexander home. Tristin English was hit by a pitch and made starting Dust Devil pitcher Brent Killam pay for it when Tristin scored on Dom Canzone’s RBI single. Dom scored on Reece Hampton’s RBI single. Reece scored on Ricky Martinez’ RBI single. It became a rinse-and-repeat cycle of four singles in a row.
The Hops scored five runs on six hits, one error and a hit batsman. This early in the game, would five runs be enough for the win? Yes, they would. But that never stopped Hops’ bats before. Why would they settle for five in this game?
Hillsboro Hops Wallop Sixth Inning
It took the Hops a while to break through again but when they did, it was close to a repeat of the first inning. They didn’t quite bat around the order as they “only” sent eight men to the plate. The Hops didn’t score five runs in the inning as they “only” scored four. But, they had fun doing it.
Reece Hampton led off with a walk and stole second. Nick Dalesandro sent a deep shot to right-center and the game became strange. Reece took off on the crack of the bat only to see third base coach (and manager) Vince Harrison motioning him to hurry back to second. Nick’s long shot was not deep enough to escape the outfielder’s glove. Only, the center fielder Brandon White lost the ball when it went above the lights. Waving arms and looking around for a little white sphere but not finding it.
Just before Reece made it all the way back to second, he saw it drop and reach the wall. Reece quickly turned around and headed back to third and saw manager Harrison windmilling Reece towards home. He crossed the plate trying to beat any throw that might be relayed home but he didn’t need to worry. His fleet feet took him home in plenty of time.
Nick Dalesandro’s Inside the Park Home Run
As fast as Reece was on the base paths, imagine his surprise when he looked back and saw Nick Dalesandro less than 90 feet away burning the dirt on his way to home plate. Nick was trying to cover the entire base path in almost the same time as Reece covered from second to home. (Though Nick didn’t have to double back to second) The throw came in but not in time. As Nick touched the plate, his arms were pumping strong enough to lift the world on his shoulders. His face had a grin stretching from ear to ear. And his teammates couldn’t be happier for their teammate. They had witnessed an inside the park home run. The celebration at home plate would rival any of those of a World Series walk-off winner.
And that was just the start of the sixth inning. There is more to come. Buddy Kennedy singled and reached third on Blaze Alexander’s double. Both runners scored on Andy Yerzy’s two-RBI double. The score grew to 9-2. The Hillsboro Hops wallop indeed.
One Last Time for the Hillsboro Hops Wallop
The Hops still had more to go. To begin the next inning, middle infielder Ricky Martinez sliced one over the left field fence and bounced around in the visitor’s bullpen. Like everything else in this game, there is a story. It was Ricky’s first home run for the season. In his second year, it was also Ricky’s first career home run as a pro.
With Everett and Eugene flipping top spots, the win pushed the Hillsboro Hops (15-16) up a half game and are only four games behind the lead. The loss dropped the Tri City Dust Devils (10-22) to 9.5 games behind the leader. Both teams meet at Ron Tonkin Stadium tomorrow afternoon for game three. The Hops lead the series early, 2-0. The Hops also have a chance to pull themselves back up to .500. The last time was the first week when they beat Eugene in a double header and ended up 4-4.
Note: this game was played on Wednesday night, June 9th, and the standings do not represent the results from Thursday, the 10th.
Also, check out my pre season column from 2019. I had a chance to sit down with several young Hops, including Ricky Martinez on the day before his first game as a professional from June 13th, 2019.
During the day, I asked several Hops, new and old, who they will emulate on the field when the game is on. You’ll find current Hops Andy Yerzy, Nick Grande, Trevor McKenna and current Hops Ricky Martinez with their answers. Who Ricky selected may surprise you.