HILLSBORO, Ore. – The Hops were shutout 6-0 by the Eugene Emeralds on Monday night at their home opener at Ron Tonkin Field in front of a sold out crowd of 5,093. The loss came to the home team after a 1-3 start to the season in Keizer where they allowed 30 runs to the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, scoring just 11 of their own.
Starter Taylor Wright struck out nine while walking zero in five innings of three run, four hit ball for Hillsboro (1-3). The righty held the Emeralds (3-1) to just two hits through three innings, yet accrued his first loss of the season.
Unfortunately, those two hits scored the first runs of the brisk two hour and 25 minute game. With two outs in the top of the third (both from K’s), Eugene leadoff hitter D.J. Wilson singled to second. One pitch – and one pickoff move – later Andruw Monasterio homered to give the Emeralds a 2-0 lead. Wright would force the next hitter into a groundout to end the inning.
Wright gave up a leadoff double to Yeiler Peguero to start the fifth, a runner that would score one batter later.
Down 3-0, Hops reliever Jake Winston entered the game and lasted just one seven-batter inning. The first-year player out of Southern Mississippi gave up four hits and three runs in the inning, although only two were earned. Shortstop Manny Jefferson would allow Kevonte Mitchell to reach on an error to start the inning. By the time Winston left the game and the top of the sixth was over, the Hops faced a six run deficit.
Kirby Bellow, Jordan Watson, and Julio Perez each threw an inning of no-run ball for Hillsboro to close out the game, but the damage had been done.
Eugene starter Manuel Rondon threw five innings of one hit shutout ball, facing just one batter over the minimum. The southpaw combined with righty Michael Knighton to force the Hops to go three-up, three-down in all but two innings the entire game.
Knighton allowed just two hits in four innings, both of which came in the ninth. The first-year Chicago Cubs prospect earned his first save, preserving Rondon’s first win.
Hillsboro’s Ron Tonkin Field opener was a sloppy one. The Hops committed four errors: errant throws from Jefferson (2) and Wright and a missed catch by first baseman Luke Lowery. Catcher Alexis Olmeda had one passed ball.
Eugene added two errors of their own to the mess: one missed throw by Monasterio and a botched grounder by Peguero.
Not the clean outcome that fans, players, and coaches alike were hoping for, the Hops will look to Championship Night tonight against the Emeralds for their first win at home of the 2016 season. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. with mini replica championship trophies to be handed out to the first 1,500 fans through the gates at Ron Tonkin Field.