Hops surge into first place
The Hops just keep finding ways to win.
The combination of solid pitching and an opportunistic offense won out again on Tuesday night, when Hillsboro spotted Everett a run early at Ron Tonkin Field and rallied for a 3-1 victory.
On a sweltering night at the ballpark the temperature was well into the 90s when the game started the win upped the teams record to 12-7, putting the Hops four games up in the Northwest League South Division on Boise, Eugene and Salem-Keizer, who all sat at 8-11 after Tuesdays contests.
From starting pitching, bullpen, closing, weve been really good, so us position guys, we just get to go out there and have fun and relax, said Jordan Parr, who went 2-for-3 and scored a run. And were putting up three runs on the board, four runs on the board, and were winning a lot of ball games. Thats credit to (Hops pitching coach) Doug Drabek and our pitching staff.
Through Tuesday, the Hops led the league with a 2.86 earned run average. Collectively, starter Trent Jones and relievers Dustin Loggins and Cody Geyer were even better than that on the night. Jones, a fourth-round draft pick out of Cornell this year, largely breezed along over his 5.2 innings, scattering six hits and a walk while striking out four.
He seemed capable of going longer but took a comebacker from Sheehan Planas-Arteaga in the vicinity of the back of his pitching arm in the sixth with two outs, after which the Hops coaching staff opted to shut him down for the night.
Afterward, Loggins promptly induced a fly-out to right field to end the half-inning. He went on to give up just one hit in 2.1 innings, while Geyer raced through a 1-2-3 ninth to pick up his second save of the season.
The AquaSox picked up their lone run in the second inning on a great defensive play by the Hops. With one out and the bases loaded, Taylor Smart hit a pop-fly to Jordan Parr in right field for the second out. Then Parr unleashed a right-on-the-money throw to George Roberts at third base to get the tag on Luke Guarnaccia. Kyle Petty did score on the sequence, but the double play limited the damage to one run.
The Hops answered in the next inning. Yorman Garcia took a pitch from Everett starter Noel De La Cruz with one out to reach first, and then Elvin Soto launched an RBI triple to right-center for the tying run. He scored on the next at-bat on Roberts groundout to shortstop for the lead.
Sotos RBI has come during an impressive run for the second-year Hops catcher. In his six most recent outings through Tuesday, Soto was 12-for-25 (.480) with five RBIs and four runs, sending his batting average rocketing up to .319.
Were clicking, so thats big-time, said Soto, who called the win a team effort. Were clicking and its rolling. ... Maybe one night its one guy, the next night its the next guy, just day by day letting it happen.
Parr tacked on an insurance run in the fourth after leading off with a just-fair double to left field. Two batters later, the second-year pro used his speed to get home when Bennie Robinson hit into a fielders choice that bounced high into the air before De La Cruz fielded it. He opted to throw home to try to get Parr, but he was well ahead of the throw and came home standing up.
Among other notable events and developments over the past week:
The Hops exploded for 14 hits and 10 runs their highest-scoring output of the season in a 10-0 road shellacking of the Boise Hawks last Thursday. Todd Glaesmann and Soto led the way on offense, each going 4-for-5, and Soto added two RBIs. Hillsboro got the jump on Boise early, scoring two runs in the second and five more in the third to create separation. On the mound, Jones was a tough customer, giving up just two hits in five innings. Nick Baker followed up with four scoreless innings to preserve the shutout, the teams third of the season.
Hillsboro capped its three-game Boise series with a 3-1 victory on Saturday. The Hops got all three of their scores on a home run by Grant Heyman in the sixth inning to overcome a one-run deficit. Bennie Robinson added two hits for the team, which was outhit 7-5 by the Hawks but won anyway. Ben Eckels was impressive in the start, scattering five hits and giving up just one run and one walk while fanning eight. Loggins and Zac Curtis yielded just one hit apiece over the final 1.2 innings
The word on the street was that he wasnt going to stay in Hillsboro for long, and he didnt. Glaesmann, an outfielder, was promoted to the Mobile (Ala.) BayBears, Arizonas Class AA affiliate, late last week. In 14 games in Hillsboro, the former minor league player of the year in the Tampa Bay Rays organization was batting .404 for the Hops to go along with 23 hits, 12 runs and nine RBIs. In four games with the Bears through Tuesday, Glaesmann was hitting a solid .364 with four hits, two runs and four RBIs.
Hillsboro has been absolutely stellar on the road this season, continuing a trend that dates back to last summer. Heading into a three-game series at Salem-Keizer that begins tonight, the Hops were 6-2 on the road in June. Remarkably, the team went 10-0 over its final 10 road games at the end of 2013, so it is 16-2 away from home dating back to last Aug. 17.
After the Volcanoes series, the Hops get a rare off day Monday before heading back to Boise for a three-game stint that kicks off Tuesday. Starting July 11, Hillsboro is home for seven of eight games against Salem-Keizer and Tri-City.