Seven Hops pitchers combined on a two-hitter and the Hops scored five of their six runs on home runs by Jason Morozowski and Jose Queliz in a 6-1 victory over the Eugene Emeralds Monday night.
With the victory, the Hops (23-14 2nd half, 42-33 overall) swept the final series of the regular season and finished with a 7-5 record against Eugene (26-12, 54-22), the team with the top record in the Northwest League.
The Emeralds won both the first and second-half South Division championships and will face the Hops in the opening game of the divisional round of the playoffs at Ron Tonkin Field Wednesday night. Game two (and three, if necessary) of the series will be played at P.K. Park in Eugene. The winner of the best two-out-of-three series will face either Spokane or Everett in the NWL Championship Series.
Hops manager Shelley Duncan and pitching coach Mike Parrott went into the night with the intent of getting a lot of pitchers some work. For the Hops batters, it was a major chore to make contact against Eugene starting pitcher Dylan Cease. A prized Cubs prospect, Cease fanned 10 Hops batters without a walk over five innings, yielding only one hit, a Luis Veras sharp grounder through the right side with one out in the fifth inning.
Eugene led 1-0 in the sixth when Morozowski drove a high fastball into the netting in right for his ninth home run as a Hop and 13th of the season to tie the game 1-1.
In the seventh inning, the Hops put the first two runners on base after Veras laced a single up the middle and Jason Heinrich, recently acquired by the Diamondbacks in a trade with the Orioles, drew a walk. With one out, Queliz, playing in just his 14th game of the season, hit a towering fly ball to left for a three-run homer, his second of the year. Hillsboro tacked on two more runs on a Luke Lowery single later in the inning.
Riley Smith (2-0), the fifth of seven Hops pitchers on the evening, got the victory after pitching a scoreless top of the seventh inning. Santana (3-1) suffered his first loss of the year, charged with five earned run in 1 1/3 innings.
Eugene's only run came on a balk in the fourth inning. With two outs and Dallas Newton pitching for the Hops, Ems cleanup hitter Wladimir Galindo took a close 3-2 pitch for ball four. Trent Giambrone followed with a single to center to put runners on the corners before Galindo scored on the balk.
19-year-old right handed pitcher Wesley Rodriguez made his Hillsboro debut, pitching a scoreless sixth inning with a strikeout and a walk.
Veras had two of the Hops' seven hits and was the only Hillsboro batter to reach base twice. Eugene's Marcus Mastrobuoni reached base three times on a single and two walks.
Start time for all games of the divisional playoff series will be 7:05 p.m. Pregame airtime on Rip City Radio 620 AM is at 6:05 p.m.