Hillsboro Hops Win Second-Half Crown, Eugene Emeralds 4-1
The Hillsboro Hops clinched the second half crown tonight beating the Eugene Emeralds 4-1. With tight pitching and enough firepower to stay ahead, the Hops never trailed. The Hops were already assured of being in the playoffs starting Monday but their opponent was and still is in doubt. Eugene did have a chance to win the second half until they were eliminated by the Hops. Now the Hops opponent will be decided between Eugene and the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. That decision will be made by whichever team holds the best overall record for 2015. At this time, the Volcanoes lead the Emeralds by one game. Hillsboro’s opponent will be decided in the last regular game of the season Sunday.
The only damage to the Hops pitching came in the fourth when PJ Higgens hit a ground rule double over the right field fence. Higgens scored when Eloy Jimenez followed with a single to right. The rest of the night can be summed up with one hit and no runs. The Emeralds were limited to three hits for the entire game for the second night in a row. Jimenez singled to center in the first inning for the other hit.
The Hops brought plenty of firepower but left 11 men on base. Two runs came in the first when Zach Nehrir scored from second on a Grant Heyman single to left. Heyman scored on an infield single by Louis Veras.
The Hops other two runs came in the sixth. Mitsui scored from third on a Nate Robertson blooper to left. Robertson scored on a a Sergio Alcantara double.
The Hops came up with 13 hits and spread them around the team. Luis Veras went 3 for 4 with a double and an RBI. Trevor Mitsui and Sergio Acantara went 2 for 4. Mitsui scored a run and Alcantara doubled with an RBI. Grant Heyman went 2 for 5, scored a run and brought home an RBI.
For the second night in a row, the pitching delivered and players like Luis Veras made outstanding plays in the field. Troy Marks (1-1) started and went with one run on three hits in six innings. Marks also struck out six batters for the win. Tyler Bolton, Ariel Hernandez and Brody Greer each took an inning to finish the game with a combined no runs and no hits. If not for a walk issued in the fourth, the relief would have been perfection. Greer pitched the ninth for his fifth save of the year.
The Hillsboro Hops (22-15) climbed one game ahead of the Eugene Emeralds (21-16) and hold the tie breaker to win the second half crown. Both teams meet each other at Ron Tonkin Field in Hillsboro for the final game of their season. Monday, the Hops will face either Salem-Keizer or Eugene on the road to start the South Division playoff. The winner will meet the North Division winner for the championship.
The Hops won both crowns of 2014 as well when they went on to win the 2014 NW League championship. Their first home game in the playoffs will be on Tuesday. Tickets are on sale at the box office and hillsborohops.com.
By Greg Stoker