“Home Run” Smith, Eugene Emeralds Beat Hops 10th game in a row, 3-1
“Home Run” Smith did it again. Last game, he hit a solo shot in the first inning and a three-run shot in the second. He didn’t need as much this time around. This time, all he and the team needed was his two-run blast in the first, scooping up Ismael Munguia along the way.
Quick and Clean
The first pitch of the game set the tone. Munguia swung at the first pitch and hit a sharp single to right to get on base. Two batters and three pitches later, Armani “Home Run” Smith sent his third homer in two nights flying out for a quick 2-0 lead.
“Home Run” Smith on First Pitch
In fact, the whole inning was short work as the Emeralds did not waste any time. Munguia hit his first pitch to get on base. Will Wilson popped up his second pitch to the Hops’ shortstop Blaze Alexander. “Home Run” Smith sent his first pitch over the center field fence for the game’s first score. Sean Roby flew out to center on his first pitch. To end the inning, Logan Wyatt sent his first pitch bouncing to third baseman Roman Ruiz for the ground out.
Six pitches and the damage was done. The Ems had their lead and would never give it up. Normally, six pitches to retire a team for the inning means the pitcher is in command and shuts the team at the plate down. This time, it was surgical precision by the bats to control the game and Eugene went to the dugout with a two-run lead.
Brandon Pfaadt and “Home Run” Smith
Both pitchers faced their challenges but those challenges never went away. For Hops’ starter Brandon Pfaadt, his obvious first challenge was the two-run homer in the first. His second challenge came in the third with back to back doubles by Munguia and Wilson. Will Wilson was also a part of the back to back homers of the previous night with “Home Run” Smith in the first inning.
That gave the Ems their three runs for the night. To Pfaadt’s chagrin, that was the magic number for tonight. The Ems didn’t need anymore. After that, the challenges grew sparse. A single in the fourth ruining the purity of striking out the side. A walk to extend the sixth inning by one more batter. Despite all of that. Pfaadt faced 18 batters, two over the minimum, in his last four innings.
Aaron Phillips and Those Pesky Hops
Ems starter Aaron Phillips may consider the Hops a little more pesky even though they could only generate one run for the entire game. That didn’t stop the Hops from threatening in the first five innings. In the first, Dom Canzone singled and made it to second before the inning ended. The second featured an Eduardo Diaz single and he made it to third while Nick Dalesandro walked and stopped at second.
The third inning resulted in their only run for the evening when Reece Hampton tripled and scored on Spencer Brickhouse’s sac fly. Later in the inning, Andy Yerzy would get hit by a pitch and make it second. The fourth saw newcomer Roman Ruiz single and scoot over to second on a stolen base. In the fifth, Dom Canzone singled again, stole second (again) and went to third on Blaze Alexander’s single leaving runners at the corners. The sixth inning was an abberation: ten pitches, three outs, no base runners.
But, for five innings, the Hops never failed to get a runner into scoring position. Unfortunately, that only resulted in one run and eight men left on base. Of late, it has been the bugaboo of the Hops. To get men on base easily but not get them home. Eight of the nine starters in the lineup came close to scoring or helping a teammate to score. But, only one would come home.
The win helped the Eugene Emeralds (33-17) maintain their half game lead over Everett and now have a five game winning streak. Everett remains hot on their heels with a seven game streak of their own. On the other hand, the Hillsboro Hops (19-30) dropped another game behind Eugene and now reside thirteen and a half games behind the leaders. Not only did the Hops distance themselves from the top but also the next team above them. Spokane is now three games ahead of the Hops.
Both teams come to play Friday night at 7:05 PM for game four of the series. The Ems currently lead the series 3-0. You can watch it on MiLB.tv, listen to it on 620 AM radio or follow me on Twitter for half inning updates. You can find my Twitter handle below. In the meantime, check out the previous game for “Home Run” Smith and his two homers from last night in the previous game recap.