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Nelson, Cruz, January Fuel Hillsboro to Series Win

August 31, 2019 - Northwest League (NWL) - Hillsboro Hops News Release

The Hillsboro Hops (22-13 second half, 46-27 overall) shut out the Boise Hawks 6-0 on Friday night in front of a sellout crowd at Ron Tonkin Field.

Former Oregon Ducks star Ryne Nelson brought his best stuff to Friday's contest versus Boise, pitching three innings of shutout baseball for the Hops. Nelson, the 56th overall pick in this year's draft, fooled most of the Hawks' batters, as they could only muster up two hits while striking out five times through the first three innings.

In the bottom of the fourth, Hillsboro struck first as Ryan January crushed a double off the wall in center field, bringing home Liover Peguero and Dom Canzone to make it 2-0 Hops. It was January's fifth double of the season.

After back-to-back hits from Eddie Hernandez and Joe Gillette, Boise's starter Luke Chevalier was pulled from the game with two outs in the bottom of the fifth. It ended up being a smart move for the Hawks, as reliever Wander Cabrera struck out Andy Yerzy looking to end the inning.

In the bottom of the sixth, the Hops executed a rare double steal to take a 3-0 lead. Cabrera appeared to pick off Canzone going to second base, when Peguero took off for home and scored after catching the Boise defense by surprise. Kevin Lachance brought home Canzone on a sacrifice fly to make it 4-0 Hops.

Piggybacking Nelson, Wilfry Cruz (5-2) was dominant for the Hops, pitching four shutout innings while giving up only one hit and striking out six batters. Cruz, the 21-year-old righty from Bani, Dominican Republic, had a runner on third and nobody out to start the seventh, but got three straight outs to get out of the jam.

After Eddie Hernandez was hit by a pitch, Boise continued to struggle defensively, as an overthrow of Hawks' first baseman Trey Jacobs allowed Hernandez to score, putting the Hops up 5-0.

Making his debut in Hillsboro, highly touted prospect Brennan Malone pitched a perfect eighth inning. Malone, 18 years old from Matthews, North Carolina, was drafted straight out of high school as the 33rd overall pick in this year's draft. He was committed to the University of North Carolina before choosing to play professionally.

The Hops added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth. After hitting a triple on a line drive to center field, Canzone scored on a wild pitch by Hawks' reliever Braxton Lorenzini, giving the Hops a 6-0 lead.

An inning after Malone made his debut, Avery Short also pitched for the first time at Ron Tonkin Field. Short, an 18-year-old lefty, was drafted out of Southport High School in Indianapolis, Indiana in the 12th round of this year's draft. After giving up two walks to start the ninth inning, Short got a flyout and two strikeouts to finish the shutout for the Hops.

The Hops will finish the regular season with a three-game set in Boise starting tomorrow. Next Wednesday, September 4th, Hillsboro will take on the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes at the Tonk for the opening game of the Northwest League playoffs. The best of three set will resume in Keizer the following day and Friday if necessary. If the Hops advance to the championship round, they will host Games 1 and 2 on Saturday, September 7th, at 7:05 p.m. and Sunday, September 8th, at 5:05 p.m. Playoff tickets can be purchased online at

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