Justin Donatella, Hillsboro Hops Blank Eugene Emeralds, 2-0
After an episode of barraging bats the night before, the Hillsboro Hops made two runs enough to stand for their next win over the Eugene Emeralds, 2-0. Recently acquired Justin Donatella (1-0) started and pitched five innings for the win. Donatella held the Emeralds to two hits and struck out two. Four Hops pitchers went one inning each to close out the game combining for one hit and five strike outs. Taylor Clarke (S-3) pitched the ninth to earn the save.
The Hops were limited to four hits but managed to squeeze two runs out of their efforts. It happened in the bottom of the third with two outs already notched on the scoreboard. Dansby Swanson reached base on a walk. Grant Heyman singled to left field putting Swanson on third and runners at the corners.
The Emeralds tried to stop the bleeding before it happened by bringing in Preston Morrison to relieve starting pitcher Kyle Twomey. Trevor Mitsui walked up to the plate and doubled to left field scoring Swanson and Heyman for the game’s only runs.
Kyle Twomey (1-1) took the loss. Preston Morrison, Luis Hernandez and Trey Masek combined to hold the Hops to one hit the rest of the way.
Eugene managed only three hits on the night. Ian Rice grabbed two of those hits going 2 for 3. Eloy Jimenez singled to right in the first inning for the other hit. All three hits were singles. Ian Rice made it to third in the fifth inning and Ricardo Marcano made it to second base in the eighth. At no other time did an Emeralds’ base runner make it past first base.
The Hops spread out four hits among four batters: Sergio Alcantara, Grant Heyman, Trevor Mitsui and Luis Veras. Dansby Swanson and Heyman scored the only runs of the night and Mitsui drove both runs home increasing his team leading RBI total to 42. Both of Mitsui’s and Veras’ hits were doubles.
On a two game winning streak, the Hillsboro Hops moved into a first place tie with the Eugene Emeralds in the South Division. There are two games left to play in the second half of the season and the Hops own the tiebreaker.
With one Hops win, the Emeralds would be eliminated making the Hops winners of both the first and second half parts of the season. If that happens, Hillsboro would play the next best combined record for the entire season in the first round of the playoffs. At this time, the Eugene Emeralds and Salem-Keizer Volcanoes are tied at 38-36.
If the Emeralds win the next two games and win the second half crown, Eugene and Hillsboro will meet in the first round with the Hops claiming home field advantage by virtue of winning the first half crown
The playoffs will start on next Monday, September 7th, with the Hops on the road at either Eugene or Salem-Keizer. The three game series will then come home to Hillsboro for the second game on Tuesday night, September 8th. If needed, there will be a third game at Hillsboro on Wednesday night, September 9th.
If the Hops make it to the championship round and get a chance to defend their 2014 title, the three-game series will start on Thursday, September 10th at Hillsboro. Tickets are on sale at the box office or at hillsborohops.com.
By Greg Stoker