Spokane Indians Smother Hillsboro Hops 12-1
The Hillsboro Hops started the second half the same way they ended the first half: with a loss to the Spokane Indians, 12-1. The Hops hit the scoreboard first with their lone run of the game in the first inning and then sat back and watched the Indians notch a dozen runs the rest of the way.
The game was filled with three errors but it felt more than that. Sloppy play and bad luck bounces seemed to keep the Hops earth-bound whenever they tried to bounce back.
The Hops solo run came easy and early. Ryan Grotjohn doubled by sending a sharp grounder past the diving second baseman Yonny Hernandez into centerfield. Eudy Ramos sent a line drive down the third base line that barely stayed fair. A quick bounce and a hop limited Grotjohn to third base.
Camden Duzenack brought Ryan Grotjohn home with a confusing play for the Indians infield. Yonny Hernandez fielded the grounder and had a choice between a runner to second or the batter. Hernandez chose to try and tag Ramos as he came by and go for the lead runner. Ramos avoided the tag and both runners were safe. After that, the Hops managed three more hits on the night.
Yonny Hernandez represented the Indians bats well and was typical of how the game shifted after the first inning. Hernandez went to the plate five times and scored the first four times at bat. With Kobie Taylor on first, Hernandez bunted down the third base line for the sacrifice. But, first baseman Eudy Ramos dropped the ball and again both runners were safe. The next inning, after Isaias Quiros doubled, Hernandez homered over the right field fence.
Yonny walked the next two times and scored in one of the most efficient stat lines of the season. To go with the sacrifice, Yonny also homered, singled and walked twice to go 2 for 2, scored four times and knocked three runs across the plate.
As much as the Indians bats decimated the Hops defense, Spokane’s pitching was equally important. Tyler Phillips (W, 1-1) started the game and went five innings giving up the Hops one run on four hits while striking out eight. When Phillips was relieved before the sixth inning started, it was only because he had reached his pitch limit for the night. Noah Bremer took over for the sixth and seventh limiting the Hops to one hit. Alex Eubanks took the last two innings doing even better keeping the Hops hitless for his stay on the mound.
Tyler Keele (L, 3-3) started for the Hops and lasted four innings giving up six runs on five hits for the loss.
The five-game series started out hot for the Hops. Taking the first game in a close 6-5 opener, they blew out the visiting team 15-0 putting the Hops in the driver’s seat with a 2-0 series lead. Hillsboro lost the next two games 11-3 and 5-3 setting up a rubber match in the final game. Luckily, the Hops had already backed into the first half championship when Eugene couldn’t take advantage of the opportunity the Hops were handing them by losing their last two games of the first half.
Spokane took the series 3-2.
The Loss tied the Hillsboro Hops (0-1) in second place with the Boise Hawks and Eugene Emeralds, one game behind the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. The win started the Spokane Indians (1-0) in a first-place tie with the Tri City Dust Devils and the Everett Aquasox, one game ahead of the Vancouver Canadians.
The Hops will be leaving at 5:30 in the morning for an early start to an eight-hour trip to Boise to play the Hawks Tuesday night in a three-game series to be followed by another three-game set in Eugene. That will take them to the All-Star break which will be held in Ron Tonkin Stadium.
The Indians will return home to play the Everett Aquasox in a home and away series that will start with three games at home and end with three games on the road.
Hops notes: Yeison Santana was sent up from the AZL D-Backs and made his debut in a Hops uniform pitching the fifth, sixth and part of the seventh innings. Santana allowed five runs on four hits while striking out five.
Luke Lowery, who played in 67 games for the Hops in 2016 and 7 more in 2017, was released by the Diamondbacks. During his time in a Hops uniform, Luke smacked 69 hits, 15 doubles, five home runs, 36 RBI and walked 27 times.
By Greg Stoker