January, Hillsboro continue on in September

Catcher plates three runs as Hops make first Finals since 2015

Hillsboro is headed to the Northwest League Championship Series for the first time in four years. (Hillsboro Hops)

By Katie Woo / MiLB.com | September 6, 2019 3:11 AM

Class A Short Season Hillsboro hadn't hopped into the Northwest League Finals since 2015. Ryan January helped change that fortune Thursday.

The Arizona catching prospect plated three runs as the Hops punched their ticket to the Championship Series by sweeping Salem-Keizer with a 6-3 victory in the best-of-3 series.

Gameday box score

After scoring twice in the final two innings of Wednesday's 2-1 win, Hillsboro made good use of some of their best attributes Thursday, utilizing six different pitchers and continuing not to play error-free ball in the series.

"Our pitchers did an outstanding job keeping games close and we've been playing unbelievable defense these past two days," Hops manager Javier Colina said. "When you go to playoffs, defense and pitching is what it's all about."

Starter Conor Grammes, Arizona's fifth-round selection in this year's Draft, gave up two runs while striking out three over three innings . 2019 second-rounder Ryne Nelson -- the D-backs' No. 25 prospect -- notched the win after three innings of one-hit ball. He didn't issue any walks while striking out four.  

January went 2-for-5 with a double and a run scored. He broke the scoring open early in the top of the first inning, tagging Salem-Keizer starter Caleb Kilian with a two-RBI single. The 2016 eighth-round pick added his third run on a two-bagger in the fifth.

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D-backs No. 18 prospect Liover Peguero and Lyle Lin also plated runs for the Hops. Lin drove in Jesus Marriaga with a sacrifice fly in the second and Peguero doubled home January in the fifth. 

"These guys have been performing like crazy," Colina said. "The best part about this team is our chemistry. Everybody gets along. It doesn't matter if you just got here, everyone fits in.

"They made me look good. They compete every single day. It's good to see this young group and how they perform every day with their mentality. I'm so proud of them."

Colina has been a part of the D-backs organization for six seasons and served as the Hops hitting coach in 2015, when Hillsboro won the championship. Colina is confident they can do it this year too.

"We're going to go out, have fun and compete, and I know for sure they're going to deliver," he said. "We have the best team in the league. There's no doubt in my mind."

2019 MiLB include

Harrison Freed clubbed a solo homer for the Volcanoes. Tyler Flores doubled in a run and Jeff Houghtby added an RBI on a fielder's choice.

The Championship Series will begin Saturday.

In other Northwest League action:

Indians 5, Dust Devils 1

Spokane evened up the best-of-3 series to set up a winner-take-all game Friday at Tri-City. The Indians' Heriberto Hernandez belted a two-run blast, and three additional runs scored on wild pitches by the Dust Devils. Teodoro Ortega allowed one run on three hits over 4 2/3 innings and Billy Layne Jr. scattered three hits over 4 1/3 frames. Jack Stronach singled in Tri-City's lone run. Gameday box score

Katie Woo is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @katiejwoo. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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