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 Hillsboro Hops

Short and Longball: Hops Sweep Pair in Everett

June 20, 2024 - Northwest League (NWL)
Hillsboro Hops News Release


EVERETT, WASH. --- Left-hander Avery Short tossed a seven-inning complete game in the opener, the Hops hit a pair of home runs in both games, and Hillsboro swept a doubleheader on Wednesday night over the Everett Aquasox at Everett Memorial Stadium by scores of 7-3 and 4-1.

Short set a new career high with 11 strikeouts, and got stronger deeper into the game. Aquasox leadoff batter Brock Rodden hit Short's second pitch of the night over the wall in center, a short-porch homer that put Everett up 1-0. Rodden homered again in the third, a more-legit line drive to left, and Jared Sundstrom hit one out in the fourth. Those three solo shots would account for all three Sox runs.

Short used a line drive double play in the third and a ground ball DP in the fourth to escape further damage, and through four innings had recorded just four Ks. Then he dialed things up, racking up two strikeouts in the fifth, two more in the sixth, and whiffing the side in order to close out the game in the seventh.

In the meantime, the Hops' offense had turned the game around. Gavin Conticello had an RBI double in the top of the fourth, but the Hops trailed 3-1 heading to the top of the fifth.

Their fortunes turned when catcher Gavin Logan clouted his first home run of the season over the hand-operated scoreboard in right-center field to cut the deficit to 3-2. Wyatt Crenshaw, after falling behind in the count 1-2, then worked a walk. Jean Walters singled to center and took second on a throw to third. Hops center fielder Jack Hurley then ripped a hard one-hopper that caromed off Everett starting pitcher Marcelo Perez into left-center field, and Hillsboro had a 4-3 lead. Neyfy Castillo followed with a fly ball to center that squeaked over the short porch for a two-run home run, the final blow in a five-run frame that put the Hops up 6-3.

They added a run in the seventh on another RBI double from Conticello. That would be plenty for Short, whose 11 Ks surpassed his previous career high of 10 set in 2021 with Visalia. He allowed five hits (including the three solo homers), and walked two in the 7-3 victory.

Reliever Alec Baker made a spot start for the Hops in game two. The right-hander allowed one run in three innings, and would have given up more if not for a strong defensive play by the Hops in the bottom of the third. With two out and Everett's Josh Hood at first base after a walk, Sundstrom smoked a line drive off the left-field fence. Castillo played the carom perfectly, and the Hops executed an excellent relay from Castillo to shortstop Juan Corniel to catcher Christian Cerda, who tagged out Hood to end the inning.

Hillsboro had tied the game in the bottom of the second on Kevin Sim's third homer of the season, a line drive over the left-field fence off Everett starter Shaddon Peavyhouse. Conticello belted one out to right-center leading off the fourth against reliever Stefan Raeth, putting the Hops up 2-1. And Hillsboro added single runs in the fifth (on a bases-loaded walk) and the seventh (on a walk to Brett Johnson, a single by Walters and a passed ball).

The Hops' bullpen, and more excellent defense, would carry the day from there. Landon Sims worked two scoreless innings (the fourth and the fifth), notching four strikeouts and getting a double play in the fifth.

Eli Saul tossed a pair of scoreless innings to earn his third save, though it wasn't without stress. Everett put runners on first and second with none out in both the sixth and seventh innings, and in each case Saul was a pitch away from a walk that would have loaded the bases with none out. But in each inning Saul rolled a key double play. With the Hops leading 3-1 in the sixth, Hunter Fitzgerald rolled into an inning-ending DP, from second baseman Manny Pena to shortstop Corniel to first baseman Sim. And in the seventh with runners breaking from first and second, Colin Davis grounded one right to third, where Jean Walters started a third-to-first double play for the first two outs of the inning. Two pitches later, Victor Labrada grounded out to Kevin Sim to end the doubleheader.

Short (3-4) got the win in game one, and Landon Sims (1-0) picked up the victory in game two.

Hillsboro has turned eight double plays in the first three games of the series --- three in Tuesday's series opener (a 6-0 loss), two in game one of Wednesday's doubleheader, and three in the nightcap.

With the win, Hillsboro (34-30) assured themselves of at least a tie for second in the first half. The Hops are one game ahead of Eugene and 2.5 up on Everett (32-33) with one game remaining in the half.

Spokane won the Northwest League first-half flag on Sunday. The second-half pennant race begins on Friday.

Game four of the seven-game series in Everett is on Thursday at 7:05, with pregame airtime at 6:50 on Rip City Radio 620AM and www.RipCityRadio.com.


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