Sense of déjÃ vu as Hops head into all-star break
Hillsboro wins the first two games of a series against Vancouver, then drops three in a row
Last week was a bit of déjà vu for the Hillsboro Hops.
Hillsboro kicked off its five-game stretch at Vancouver with consecutive victories against the Canadians last Wednesday and Thursday. The Hops had done the exact same thing to start a five-game home stint against Everett on July 26-27 in the previous series.
Unfortunately, history repeated itself, as the Hops lost their final three games against the Canadians, just as they had against the AquaSox earlier in the week.
The three-game skid dropped Hillsboros record to 6-7 for the Northwest League second-half standings and 17-34 overall heading into the league all-star break that began Monday and continued through Wednesday (see sidebar).
The Hops were tied with Boise, trailing both Eugene and Salem-Keizer by a game, in the leagues South Division heading into the resumption of play on Thursday.
Hillsboro got its only road trip this season to British Columbia off to a fine start last Wednesday with a 7-1 victory. The Hops spotted the Canadians a run in the bottom of the first but got hot midway through the game, scoring a total of six runs in the third through fifth innings. They added the final tally in the eighth and outhit Vancouver 8-5.
Tyler Linton, who rejoined the team last week after a stint in Missoula, quickly gave notice of his return by batting 2-for-4 with an RBI. Fellow outfielder Jordan Parr recorded a hit, two runs and a walk, while Yosebel Gutierrez and Randy McCurry scored one run apiece. The Hops were also the beneficiaries of four Vancouver errors.
Hillsboro tied the game in the third, when Gutierrezs sacrifice fly brought in McCurry, who had drawn a walk earlier in the inning. McCurry continued to do his part for the team in the next inning, scoring Parr on an RBI single after Lintons RBI line-drive to right field plated Elvin Soto. The Hops built an insurmountable lead with a three-run fifth, when Vancouver recorded three of its errors, all on throws.
Aaron Blair picked up his first decision of the season after scattering three hits and a run over five innings while striking out three and walking two. Patrick Smith gave up two hits but no runs out of the bullpen for the Hops, and Will Locante and Jimmie Sherfy added a shutout inning each.
Justin James, who relieved Canadians starter Alonzo Gonzalez after three innings, took the loss, giving up six hits and five runs.
In last Thursdays 4-3 victory, the Hops prevailed in a back-and-fourth game. Each team scored once in the first before Vancouver took the lead with another run in the fifth.
But Hillsboro responded immediately with two runs in the sixth and scored what would prove to be the winning run in the ninth, as the Canadians scored on an RBI groundout by David Harris in the bottom of the ninth but could rally no more.
George Roberts went an impressive 3-for-5 that game to go along with an RBI and a run. Ryan Gebhardt added two singles, and Cesar Carrasco, Linton and McCurry added an RBI apiece.
Ben Eckels picked up the win on the pitchers mound to up his record to 3-5. He gave up five hits, two runs and three walks while striking out three. Jonathan Pulley and Johnny Shuttlesworth came on to hold in relief, while Daniel Gibson picked up his third save of the season despite giving up that run in the ninth.
Kyle Anderson took the loss for Vancouver with a seven-hit, three-run performance in six innings.
After a gallant comeback, the Hops came out on the wrong end of a one-run game the following day in a 9-8 defeat in 10 innings.
Hillsboro got out to a sluggish start and trailed 6-0 after three innings. They cut their deficit to 6-3 in the sixth before allowing two more runs in the bottom half of the stanza to trail 8-3. Miraculously, the team forced extra innings with a five-spot fifth, one of the highest single-inning productions of the season.
But the Hops fell on a two-out single the Canadians 16th hit of the game to right field by Christian Vasquez to take the hard-luck loss.
Linton posted two hits and scored two runs for the Hops, while Roberts hit a three-RBI double and Carrasco added a two-run double. Roberts big hit cut the score to 8-7, and he also scored the tying run on a fielding error on the next at-bat.
After starting his pro debut in strong fashion earlier this season, Hops starter Braden Shipley continued recent struggles on the mound. The North Medford product yielded seven hits and six runs in 2 2/3 innings. Austin Platt gave up two runs on seven hits in 2 1/3 inning, and J.R. Bradley gave up two hits and a run in the final 1 2/3 innings to take the loss.
The Hops offense fell off considerably in the final two games of the series 8-2 and 4-0 losses. The team lost the first of those games despite outhitting the Canadians 9-7. McCurry led the way with three hits, including a double, and a run. Hillsboro also won the hitting battle the following game but lost the war and was shut out for the seventh time this season. Carrasco went 2-for-4 at the plate.
After Sundays game, the Hops enjoyed their longest stretch of off days three in a row all season thanks to the leagues all-star break. The festivities were staged in Everett, Wash., home of the AquaSox, on Tuesday.
Hillsboro resumed league play at home against Tri-City on Thursday (after press deadline). That game kicked off an eight-game homestand, which will match the Hops longest of the season.
The series against the Dust Devils continues through Monday, after which Hillsboro is slated to square off against Salem-Keizer for three games. That series will wrap up next Thursday. First pitch for all of those contests is 7:05 p.m. except for Sunday, which has a 1:35 start time.
Hillsboro will then be on the road at Spokane and Eugene from Aug. 16-24.