Four Vancouver pitchers combined to hold the Hillsboro Hops to two hits in a 5-0 loss to the Canadians (17-17) in front of a full house at Nat Bailey Stadium Thursday night. The good news is the Everett AquaSox scored enough runs for both teams.
The Sox (18-16) clobbered Boise 17-2, knocking Hillsboro's magic number for clinching the Northwest League's South Division first-half title down to one. Any Hillsboro win or Boise loss over the next four days will send the Hops back to the postseason for a fifth consecutive year. The Everett win also kept Vancouver a game out of first in the race for the North Division title.
It was a scoreless tie until the bottom of the fourth inning, thanks to a fantastic defensive play by Joey Rose in the third. The Hops' third baseman was playing in with a runner at third and one out when Vancouver's Tanner Kirwer sent a scorching line drive to his right. Rose made a diving backhand stab, then continued his dive to third base, where he tapped the bag with his glove to double off Sterling Guzman, who had led off the inning with a double.
In the fourth, Canadians' leadoff hitter Vinny Capra greeted Hillsboro pitcher Adrian Del Moral (0-2) with a home run to the left field porch on the first pitch of the inning to break the scoreless deadlock.
Del Moral pitched well enough: five innings, three hits, two runs, four strikeouts, one walk, but the Hops could not get anything to fall in on the offensive end. Sean Wymer (2-2) pitched three tough innings of relief to get the win. The 4th-round draft pick out of Texas Christian allowed one infield hit in three innings with four strikeouts and no walks, fanning four of the last five batters he faced.
The Canadians continued to add on with single runs in the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth innings while the Hops did little to trouble the Vancouver defense. One of the few hard hit balls by Hillsboro came off Tra Holmes' bat with two outs in the fifth, a screaming line drive that appeared headed for triple town. But Kirwer raced it down and made a superb, diving backhand catch to rob the Hillsboro leadoff hitter.
Holmes had a defensive gem of his own, gunning down Otto Lopez at the plate when he tried to score from second on a Yorman Rodriguez single to center. That limited Vancouver to a single run in what could have been a big sixth inning after back to back walks, a passed ball, a double steal and a single against Jake Winston, who last pitched for the Hops in 2016.
Hillsboro's best scoring opportunity came in the second inning. With two outs and none on, Jake McCarthy poked a single past the diving shortstop Capra and back-to-back walks to Francis Martinez and Ryan January loaded the bases against Vancouver starting pitcher Joey Murray. But Keshawn Lynch grounded into an inning-ending fielders' choice and the Hops wouldn't get another runner to second until the eighth inning. Andy Yerzy had the only other Hops hit, a grounder that glanced off the glove of Guzman at first base in the fourth.
Contreras went 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI. Capra was 1-for-3 with two runs and an RBI. Rodriguez hit in his 13th consecutive NWL game and 15th straight overall.
McCarthy's hit extended his current hit streak to eight games. Jose Caballero saw a 23-game streak of reaching base come to an end with an 0-for-4 night.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.