BOISE, IDAHO --- The Hillsboro Hops clubbed the Boise Hawks 13-5 in the regular season finale on Monday evening at Memorial Stadium, rapping out 15 hits in the process. Hillsboro finished the regular season at 48-28, four games better than second-place Salem-Keizer in the second half, and two clear of Salem-Keizer for the season's best overall record. It is the second consecutive year --- and the fourth in the club's seven-year history --- that the Hops have finished with the league's best won-loss mark. The game was highlighted by several individual accomplishments.
Right-hander Justin Garcia notched a rare feat, tossing an immaculate inning --- three strikeouts on nine pitches --- in a 1-2-3 sixth. Fellow righty Deyni Olivero worked just one inning in relief in a playoff tune-up to earn his franchise single-season record and league-leading eighth win, and secure the Northwest League ERA title (he finished 8-3 with a 2.09 ERA).
Outfielder Jesus Marriaga went 3-for-5 with a double, triple, walk and three runs scored, and finished the season with a Northwest League-leading (and Hops franchise record) 51 runs scored. First baseman Andy Yerzy was 1-for-3 with a sacrifice fly and bases loaded walk, and his three runs batted in gave him 34 RBIs in 63 games with Hillsboro this year --- his exact totals with the Hops last year. Eight of the nine Hops in the lineup had hits and runs scored, and seven of the nine had runs batted in.
Two Diamondbacks first-round draft choices were front-and-center. Center fielder Corbin Carroll --- the 16th pick in the 2019 draft --- was 2-for-5 with a double, walk and three runs scored. And starting pitcher Blake Walston (#26 overall) worked two scoreless innings, pitching around two hits and a walk in the first.
Hillsboro broke a scoreless tie in the top of the second when right fielder Ryan January smoked a double to right-center, collecting his 13th RBI in his last seven games. January then scored on a base hit by Nick Grande, who rejoined the Hops from Rookie-level Missoula prior to the game.
Boise scored a run in the top of the third on an RBI double by Joe Aeilts, who went 2-for-5 to snap an 0-for-22 skid. But the Hops answered in the top of the fourth on a solo home run by Dom Canzone. Hillsboro then scored two in the fifth on an RBI triple by Marriaga and a sac fly by Yerzy to take a 5-1 lead.
Yerzy and Liover Peguero had run-scoring singles in the seventh, and the Hops added six runs in the eighth to make it a laugher. The inning featured an RBI double by Carroll, bases-loaded walks drawn by Yerzy and Peguero, and an RBI single by Canzone.
It was 13-1 going to the bottom of the ninth, when Boise touched up Hops closer Eduardo Herrera for four runs, keyed by a three-run double off the bat of Nic Motley. Liu Fuenmayor got the last out for Hillsboro.
The 13 runs scored matched the Hops' season high.
Hillsboro begins their postseason quest on Wednesday at home against Salem-Keizer in game one of the South Division Series, with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 PM. Game two and (if necessary) game three will be in Keizer at 6:35 on Thursday and Friday. All games in the South Division Series can be heard on Rip City Radio 620AM and on the internet at www.RipCityRadio.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.