Hillsboro Hops starting pitcher Ben Eckels had his best outing of the year --- seven shutout innings --- and his batterymate, Yosbel Gutierrez, hit a three-run home run to lead the Hops to a 9-0 win over the Everett Aquasox on Saturday night in front of 4,274 at Hillsboro Ballpark. The Hops (4-1 in the second half, 15-28 overall) have a one-game lead over Eugene in the South Division.
Each team faced a bases-loaded, nobody-out jam in the first inning. Eckels escaped his without allowing a run, while Everett starting pitcher Thyago Vieira allowed five runs in the first, capped by Gutierrez's first round-tripper of the year.
Eckels tossed seven innings, allowing four hits, two walks, two hit batsmen and striking out two. Chase Stevens worked a scoreless eighth and Jimmie Sherfy pitched around a one-out triple by Austin Wilson in the ninth to complete the shutout.
Gutierrez went 3-for-4 with four runs batted in and extended his hitting streak to eight games --- remarkable considering he hasn't played in nine games since his streak began. Ryan Gebhardt and John Leonard each had a run-scoring hit, and Cesar Carrasco and Randy McCurry each had sacrifice flies. The Hops were 7-for-13 with runners in scoring position, while Everett was 1-for-10.
The Hops have won three straight for the first time in franchise history, and have also won seven of their last 10, easily their best stretch of the year.
Hillsboro has three more games on the homestand against Everett, the Mariners' affiliate: 5:35 Sunday, 7:05 Monday and 7:05 Tuesday (all times Pacific). The pregame show on Fox Sports Radio 620 and online at www.foxsportsradio620.com begins 30 minutes prior to each night's first pitch. Rich Burk and Matt Richert will call the action.