Yan Sanchez, Riley Smith, Hillsboro Hops Claim Victory Over Everett Aquasox, 9-2
The Hillsboro Hops put an exclamation point on the first series of the 2017 season by pounding the Everett Aquasox 9-2 for the win. The Hops took the first season series 3-2 and come back home Tuesday for their home opener.
Like the other four games in the series, the eventual winner struck first, not giving the other team a chance to catch their breath before finding themselves digging out of a hole. Hillsboro scored a single run in the first and third before Everett got on the score board. In the first, Domingo Leyba singled and came home on Yan Sanchez’ triple to right for the first run of the game. In the third, Sanchez walked and came home on Brian Araiza’s double to center.
After the first run by the Aquasox later in the inning, the Hops erupted for five runs in the fourth to put the game effectively out of reach with a score of 7-1. Everett managed one more run in the seventh but the Hops added two more solo scores in the fifth and eighth for the final score.
Riley Smith (W, 1-0) started for the Hops and went a full six innings for the win. Mostly a reliever last year with the Hops, Smith has earned a spot in the rotation. He scattered five hits around but only allowed one run across the plate. His four strike outs helped keep the Aquasox in check for the night. Cal Becker took the mound in the seventh and eighth innings allowing the other Everett run on Juan Camacho’s solo blast to left with one out.
Anfernee Benitez, another returning Hop from 2016, came on in the ninth to close the game down. He faced four batters in a hitless and scoreless inning, striking out two and walking one.
There were plenty of Hillsboro bats to go around. Yan Sanchez had a huge impact in going 2 for 4 including a two-run homer and an RBI triple to go with four RBI total and two runs scored. Sanchez was a part of four of the five innings the Hops scored in. He tripled home Domingo Leyba in the first, walked and scored in the third, had a two-run blast in the Hops’ five-run fifth inning and had an RBI fielder’s choice to score Leyba in the eighth. The only scoring Sanchez missed out on was in the sixth when he was one of only two batters to not reach the plate that inning. The night’s four RBIs elevated Sanchez into the league lead with seven.
In addition, Domingo Leyba went 3 for 5, scoring two runs and an RBI. Leyba maintained his team leading .353 average. Paxton De La Garza reached base all four times he came to the plate with two singles and two walks along with scoring twice.
Jonas Lantigua highlighted a sparse offensive night for the Aquasox going 2 for 3 with a double and an RBI. Juan Camacho’s solo homer in the seventh was responsible for the other Aquasox score.
The Hillsboro Hops (3-2) won the five-game series 3-2. While the series was tightly contested, it belied the average winning score of 7.4 to 4. The victory led the Hops into sole first place with a one game lead over the Boise Hawks and Eugene Emeralds. The Everett Aquasox (2-3) fell two games behind the north division leading Tri-City Dust Devils.
Hillsboro returns home to Ron Tonkin Field for their home opener on Tuesday, the 20th at 7:05pm. There will be opening night fireworks and an historic start for the home team. Matt Koch, down on an injury rehab assignment from the AAA Reno Aces, will be the starting pitcher for the Hops home opener. Koch will be the first Hops player to appear with previous major league experience. Matt made his MLB debut in 2016 on September 9th. For the season, Matt went 1-1 with a 2.00 ERA. He struck out ten batters in 18 innings for the Diamondbacks.
Hops notes: Kevin Ginkel has been assigned to the Hops from the Kane County Cougars. The RHP appeared in 18 games for the Hops last year, his first as a pro. Appearing as a reliever, his ERA was 2.61 with a record of 1-0. Ginkel has appeared in six games for the Cougars this year (also as a reliever) with a record of 1-1.
By Greg Stoker