Hops Lose Dazzling Opener to Emeralds

Hops Lose Dazzling Opener to Emeralds

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.


The Grain of the Game Announces New Blog Features

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Grain of the Game author Atticus Rice would like to thank all of the followers of the blog for being, well, followers. Through interactions on Twitter and the blog, our numbers have soared since the first post was published.

Now, as the 2016 Minor League Baseball season is finally in full swing with the start of Class-A Short Season ball, the blog has a few exciting announcements regarding new blog features.

The new features include live posts  that will be written during events and updated – and edited – after the events conclude, ballpark and uniform/branding reviews, baseball history quips, and and a number of others, some to be released later this year. A full breakdown of each new feature is below.


After a trial run during the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Mini Camp held at Hillsboro’s Ron Tonkin Field last week, QuickTake will be a feature that revolves around live posts that will be updated, unedited, throughout the event, and then wrapped up following the conclusion of the event .

Filed under the title, and category, as “QuickTake,” the feature should be expected every now and then, and will not be regularly scheduled.

Park Pass

As a way to document the author’s attempts to catch a  game at every ballpark a baseball team calls home, Park Pass will be anew feature that highlights first time visits to ballparks across the country. To not swarm the blog with these types of posts, followers should expect them infrequently, only upon visits to new ballparks.

Exceptions will be made for parks that were visited before this announcement with this type of post in mind. The date the park was visited (or dates) will always be made clear.

Brand Blues

Despite an episode of Makers of Sport Podcast that the author recently listened to which argued that ‘brand’ is likely the incorrect term to name this feature for what it is, Brand Blues will include posts celebrating, critiquing, criticizing, and/or simply making note of various teams’ brands – logo, uniform, use of the aforementioned, and everything in between- for the sake of what baseball design should look like, in the eyes of the author. Disagreeing with and debating the opinions expressed in these posts is not only welcomed, but encouraged.

Pastime Pinstripes

A project started for am English class at McDaniel College in the spring of 2016, Pastime Pinstripes is a “personal learning network” which focuses on the history and evolution of baseball uniforms and logos. Rather than continuing both blogs  at the same time, the decision was made to merge the two and make posts that would be better fit for Pastime Pinstripes special features on The Grain of the Game.

Posts of this nature should be expected on a weekly basis, typically posted on Sunday afternoons. While most of the posts will be new content, all posts from the original blog will be reposted on this blog on an infrequent basis. Each recycled post will be clearly marked as so.

If anyone desires, the original Pastime Pinstripes blog can be found here, along with the Twitter account here.

Sweetspot Scorecards

Given the nature of baseball, it only makes sense to keep score. The author has always believed in this, recently to the point where he has started producing his own scorecards, while still testing those made by others. To celebrate this, The Grain of the Game will begin to post features that showcase select scorecards, both game-used and ready-to-print to use at the park yourself.

If any followers or fans would like to request a custom scorecard they are more than welcome to. Requests will be filled as soon as possible.

As always, game and season previews and recaps will continue to fuel the blog as the main type of post. Team news and additional features will also remain to have a presence.

Any questions, comments, or concerns regarding the new features and/or this announcement should be directed to the comments section of this post or to the author’s Twitter, at @atticusrice.

Hops Edge By Volcanoes for First Ever Opening Day Win

Hops Edge By Volcanoes for First Ever Opening Day Win

KEIZER, Ore. – The back-to-back Northwest League defending champion Hillsboro Hops edged past division rival Salem-Keizer on Friday 6-5. The Opening Day win was the first for Hillsboro in their four year history, taking their all-time record against the Volcanoes to 19-18.

After a hitless top of the first, Hillsboro starter Anfernee Benitez gave up a lead off double to the Volcanoes’ Manuel Geraldo. A Benitez wild pitch with Geraldo on third scored the first run of the game in the bottom of the first. Benitez would give up another double and throw out a second wild pitch, with no fault, before the inning was over.

The Hops responded with three of their own in the second thanks to back-to-back hits from Justin Chigbogu and Alexis Olmeda and a three run blast from Jeff Smith.

The score remained 3-1 until Hillsboro’s Luke Lowery hit a shot of his own with Josh Anderson on base in the sixth.

Salem-Keizer’s Gustavo Cabrera added a homer of his own in the seventh after a pitching change for Hillsboro. Two more came in for the Volcanoes in the last of the seventh putting the home team within one, 5-4.

The Hops added an extra insurance run off a Chigbogu double in the eighth which scored Lowery.

The Volcanoes threatened a comeback in the bottom of the ninth scoring one on a Cabrera single, but the defending champs were able to shut things down, ending the 2 hour and 46 minute Opening Day contest.

As noted by Hops’ play-by-play announcer Rich Burk during his post game show, it was a very clean game, with no errors committed by either team, a rare feat at the start of the Northwest League season.

Lowery led the team with two RBI’s, hitting 2-for-4 and scoring two runs of his own. Smith drove in three, hitting 1-for-4.

Anderson and Chigbogu both doubled for the visitors.

Cabrera led the Volcanoes with two RBI’s and a run of his own hitting 2-for-4.

Hops starter Benitez lasted five innings, earning his first win of the 2016 season. The fifth-year player struck out six while allowing just one run on six hits. Despite being banged up early in the first inning, Benitez was able to calm down and find his groove after being handed a lead to work with.

Julio Perez earned his first save for the Hops with one inning of work where he allowed one run on two hits while striking out just one.

The Hops pitching staff combined for 10 K’s while giving a free pass to just one batter. 12 hits scored five runs.

The Volcanoes staff of three allowed six runs on 11 hits while striking out seven and walking three, along with hitting one.

As the numbers show, the Hops outlasted – and outscored- the Volcanoes just enough, garnering one more run on one less hit.

A perfect 1-0 for the first time in history, the Hops will turn to right handed Tyler Mark tonight in attempt to start a winning streak. Salem-Keizer will start Hengerber Medina, a third year righty.

Game time is set for 6:35 p.m. in Keizer.

The Hops return to Hillsboro for their home opener Monday for a 7:05 p.m. game time against the Eugene Emeralds.

As always, make sure to stay up to date on all things Hillsboro Hops, Northwest League, and Grain of the Game by following the blog (at left) and the author on Twitter at @atticusrice.

Introducing the 2016 Hillsboro Hops

Introducing the 2016 Hillsboro Hops

HILLSBORO, Ore. – The back-to-back defending Northwest League Champion Hillsboro Hops begin their fourth season on Friday.

The Short-Season Class-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks open their fourth season on the road against division rivals Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. The Hops and Volcanoes are 18-18 against each other in the last three seasons since the Hops moved from Yakima. A win will put either club over .500. Despite this, the Hops have never won on opening day, a feat they hope to accomplish tomorrow behind second year manager Shelley Duncan.

Duncan was at the helm of last year’s championship team, the second brought home to Hillsboro in as many years for the young ball club. He led the Hops to a 45-31 season, taking first place by six games in the South Division over Salem-Keizer (39-37), and the best record in the league, by three games, over the Everett AquaSox (42-34).

The Hops 2016 roster, just announced on Wednesday, includes eight players Duncan worked with in 2015, as well as 12 players just drafted last weekend in Major League Baseball’s 2016 draft.

Among the new draftees is the Diamondbacks’ top pick (#39 overall) Anfernee Grier. The Auburn University outfielder hit .366 with 12 homeruns and 41 RBI’s this last year as a junior.

Joining Grier from the 2016 draft will be, in order they were drafted, RHP Jon Duplantier, LHP Jordan Watson, RHP Tommy Eveld, C Gavin Stupienski, INF Manny Jefferson, LHP Colin Poche, RHP Jake Winston, RHP Riley Smith, RHP Trevor Simms, INF Paxton De La Garza, and OF Billy Endris.

The new recruits are joined by Duncan’s eight from 2015 include five that won the championship: C Alexis Olmeda, INF Josh Anderson, RHP Tyler Mark, RHP Jeferson Mejia, RHP Tucker Ward. RHP Jose Martinez, INF Jeff Smith, and 3B Nic Coffman will also return to the team, although they were not present for the final games of the season.

Coffman, a Portland native, remains the only player with that title to suit up for the Hops in their four years of existence. Coffman graduation from Wilson High School in Southwest Portland followed by Lane Community College and Corban University.

Also on the roster is LHP Anfernee Benitez, RHP Julio Perez, RHP Jake Winston, RHP Taylor Wright, INF Justin Chigbou, OF Matt McPhearson, OF Matt Railey, and OF Marcus Wilson. A detailed roster can be viewed here, courtesy of the Hillsboro Hops.

On deck for fans this summer at Hillsboro’s Ron Tonkin Field are a number of fun and wacky promotions. Besides post-game fireworks shows on June 20 (opening night), July 4 (Independence Day), and September 5 (fan appreciation night, final home game), the Hops will be handing out magnet schedules to all fans and showcasing a pre-game championship celebration (June 20), handing out replica championship trophies (June 21), bobblehead Barleys (August 15), and McDonald’s lunch boxes (September 3). Fans can also catch the San Diego Chicken (July 13), Portland Beavers Night (July 28), Youth Sports Weekend (August 20-21), and Craft Beer Night (August 23), among many other promotions.

After back-to-back Northwest League championships, Hops fans all around the Portland Metro Area should have something to look forward to this summer, with all the action starting Friday, June 17 in Salem-Keizer and at home on Monday, June 20 against the Eugene Emeralds.

Make sure to keep up to date with all things Hillsboro Hops and Northwest League by following the blog (at left) and the author on Twitter at @atticusrice.

Pickles Home Opener a Success, Despite Loss

Pickles Home Opener a Success, Despite Loss

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Pickles were handed their first loss at their home park, Walker Stadium, on Friday night at the hands of the Marysville Gold Sox by a score of 8-6. The game went 10 innings, the first extra innings contest in Great West League history.

The inaugural home game for Portland got off to  a quick start as both teams drew in the first. Marysville (5-1) plated two in their half of the inning thanks to work at the Plate from Adrian Vela and Austin Call.

The Pickles (3-3) responded in the bottom half of the inning with two of their own off a Marcus Doi two-run double.

The Gold Sox came back in full force behind starting pitcher Justin Giovannoni, scoring three off of Pickles’ southpaw Jacob Allbee in the second.

Marysville tacked on their sixth run an inning later in the third.

Portland was held scoreless after the first until the team exploded for four runs in the seventh, tying the game at six apiece.

The eighth and ninth saw failed efforts from both teams as the game went into extras, the first occurrence in League history.

The visitors wasted no time once play resumed after a fireworks delay (for more on this make sure to check out our review of Walker Stadium in the coming days), securing their first two batters on second and third in just three at bats. Three-hole Ryan Weisenberg singled both runners in, breaking the 6-6 tie.

Portland threatened in the last of the 10th after a leadoff single from Joey Cooper and one out walk from Jordan Prendez. A game-ending double play silenced the crowd just three pitches later.

Marysville’s Dalton DeVries led the team, reaching base five times in six at bats and scoring one run. Weisenberg hit 2-for-6 and drove in two.

Steven Chavez led the Pickles, hitting 2-for-6, both doubles, scoring twice, and driving in one more.

The three hour and 56 minute home opener was played in front of a faithful 1,607 Portland fans.

The Pickles continue their opening home stand against Marysville tonight at 7:05 p.m. at Walker Stadium.

Introducing the Portland Pickles

Introducing the Portland Pickles

PORTLAND, Ore. – Baseball is back, again. Six years after the Portland Beavers (2001-2010) made their final appearance at then PGE Park, America’s pastime is back in Portland proper, in the form of Pickles.

In 2014 a new summer collegiate baseball league as formed known as the Great West League (GWL), similar to the area’s West Coast League (WCL). The league opened for play last Friday, June 3, with the Pickles on the road against the Medford Rogues.

The league has six teams across Oregon and California which will compete in a 57 game season that runs from early June through mid August with two rounds of playoffs and an All-Star Game.

Medford, who the Pickles opened against, is the only other team in Oregon. The Rogues previously played a number of seasons in the WCL under the same moniker, logos, and setup.

The Chico Heat, Lodi Crushers, Marysville Gold Sox, and Sacramento Stealth round out the other four teams in the GWL, all from California.

As Pickles announcer Spencer Smith made note of during the broadcast on opening night, the Pickles and Rogues should form a natural, interesting rivalry being the only two teams from Oregon in the league.

The Rogues won the opening series with the Pickles 2-1, outscoring Portland 17-14 in the three games, proving Smith’s words to be true, so far.

The Pickles played their first six games on the road (the other three against Chico) and are set to open at home after their first off day today against the Marysville Gold Sox at 7:05 p.m.

The opening series will feature two opening nights, as announced by the team, the first on Friday and the second on Saturday to give all fans the chance to get into the park and get a good seat. The openers include post game fireworks, magnet schedule giveaways, among other promotions.

The park in this instance will be Walker Stadium, a relativiely long-standing ballfield in East Portland’s Lents Park (at SE Holgate and 92nd). As part of a deal with the City of Portland, Walker Stadium has been vigorously renovated throughout the spring in order to bring it up to league standards. Below are a few pictures of the stadium being worked on earlier this morning.

The front entrance to Walker Stadium.
View from beyond the right field (309 ft.) fence.
New scoreboard waiting to be set up.
Work being done on the bullpens.
The Portland Pickles away cap.








As part of my visit to Walker Stadium this morning I was able to step inside the team offices, a trailer located along the third base concourse. I picked up the team’s away cap (one of many Pickles hats I expect to buy) and my tickets for this season, and was also able to say hi to team owner and general manager Ken Wilson.

Wilson helped found the GWL back in 2014 and is currently the president, as well as president and CEO, among his other duties, of the Pickles. Wilson owns the Pickles with his partner  under the company name Rose City Baseball, LLC.

With GWL operations running right alongside Pickles operations 2016 should be an exciting season for Portland baseball fans as the GWL opens tomorrow. Make sure to catch all Pickles home games at Walker Stadium where more than half the tickets are just $8 or less.

Stay up to date with the Pickles by liking them on Facebook (/PortlandPickles) and following the team on Instagram (portlandpickles) and Twitter (@picklesbaseball).

After their first three games at home over this weekend the team will have a break and a road series against Lodi before returning home for a six game homestand against Medford and Chico starting June 21. Don’t miss out on post game fireworks on June 10, 11, and 25.

To stay up to date on all things Grain of the Game and Portland Pickles, make sure to follow the blog (see the menu) and the author on Twitter (@atticusrice).

Hillsboro Hops Announce 2016 Coaching Staff

HILLSBORO, Ore. – The Hillsboro Hops 2016 coaching staff was long ago announced on hillsborohops.com. Skipper Shelley Duncan, who was successful in his 2015 campaign with the team, will return and be joined by pitching coach Mike Parrott and hitting coach Jose Amado. Ben Petrick will return as a consultant in his fourth year with the team.

Are some of these names unfamiliar to you? Let’s find out who they are.

Taken from espn.com

Shelley Duncan, Manager

Shelley Duncan joined the Hillsboro Hops in 2015, stepping into the large shoes left by J.R. House after he led the Hops to their first championship in their second season. Duncan quickly filled the those shoes, leading the Hops to a playoff bid in the first half of the season. The team took the second half as well.

As we all know, the Hops beat the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes 2-1 games in the South Division Championship Series and did the same to the Tri-City Dust Devils, ending the season with their second League Championship in as many years, all thanks to the prowess of House and Duncan.

The son of former MLB catcher Dave Duncan, Shelley Duncan got his start in baseball playing alongside Ian Kinsler of the Detroit Tigers at Canyon del Oro High School outside Tucson, AZ. In 1997 their team won the 5A State Championship title.

He then attended the University of Arizona and was named First Team College All-American outfielder and a PAC-10 Conference All-Star in 2001. Later that year he was drafted by the Yankees in the second round, 62nd overall.

Taking his time in the minors, Duncan finally made it to the big league Yankees in 2007 at the age of 27. He saw 83 plate appearances in 34 games, the most he would see in the MLB until he was traded to Cleveland in after the 2009 season.

With the Yankees he collected a line of .219/290/.411 in 68 games and 163 plate appearances.

Duncan then spent the next three seasons with the Indians, seeing anywhere from 76-85 games a season. His numbers improved with more playing time as his average jumped to .231, his on base percentage to .309, and his slugging percentage to .430. A big league player, Duncan accumulate 114 RBI’s and 33 homers in his three year stint in Cleveland.

In 2013 he signed a minor league deal with the Tampa Bay Rays where he played just 20 games and got 10 hits, a .182 average over 55 at bats in the majors. He played his last game in the big’s on April 27th of that year, going 1-6 against the White Sox.

Duncan first came to the Diamondbacks when they signed him to a minor league deal in January of 2014. With nothing coming of that he signed another MiLB deal with the Reds in May of that year just to be released on June 18th.

On January 7th, 2015, just under a year after Arizona signed him as a player, Duncan was announced as the manager for the Hillsboro Hops.

Taken from hillsborohops.wordpress.com

Mike Parrott, Pitching Coach

Mike Parrott was drafted out of Camarillo, CA by the Baltimore Orioles in the 1st round, 15th overall pick, of the 1973 amateur draft.

By 1977 he made his debut for Baltimore, appearing in three games. This was weeks after earning the International League’s Most Valuable Pitcher award while playing for the Rochester Red Wings. In his three games he let by just one earned run.

Despite his success in just 4.1 innings pitched, Parrott found himself back on the West Coast, playing for the Seattle Mariners in 1978. Starting 10 games and appearing in 27, he went 1-5 with a 5.14 ERA, giving up 108 hits in 82.1 innings.

Parrott remained in Seattle through the 1981 season, amounting a 19-39 record with a 4.90 ERA over his four year stint with the team. He recorded a career-high 14 wins in 1979, followed by a career-high 16 losses in 1980.

After the 1981 season Parrott was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers, yet never made a game. Although he never made a Major League roster after the trade, he was named a member of the Ventura County Sports Hall of Fame back in California.

Parrott previously held the pitching coach position with the Reno Aces, AAA affiliate of the D-backs and has been in the organization as a coach for the past 19 years. He finds himself with the Hops for the first time in 2016.

Taken from hillsborohops.wordpress.com

Jose Amado, Hitting Coach

Born out of San Crstobal, Venezuela, Jose Amado spent seven years from 1995 to 2001 in the Minor Leagues. He opened his career with the Northwest League’s Everett AquaSox and found himself bouncing between five total teams for his entire stint, making it as far as Class-A Advanced in the California League.

After taking a brief hiatus, Amado returned to the diamond with Cancun’s Mexican League team in 2005. In the next two years he saw playing time with three more teams, eventually ending his Minor League career in 2007.

Amado ended his career with a .307 catting average and 108 homeruns. Known for his plate discipline, he was walked a total of 421 times while striking out just 281. His highlight season came in 2006 in the Mexican League where he hit 23 homeruns and collected 99 RBI’s while hitting .355.

Having been with the Wichita Wingnuts of the American Association (unaffiliated) for the last 14 seasons, Amado, like Parrott, will be in Hillsboro for the first time this season.

Taken from hillsborohops.wordpress.com

Ben Petrick, Consultant

An Oregon native, Ben Petrick was born in Salem and grew up in Hillsboro, attending Glencoe High School. The Colorado Rockies saw his potential and drafted him in the second round of the 1995 amateur draft.

After playing 20 games with the Rockies’ AAA affilaite, the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, Petrick debuted for the Rockies on September 1 of 1999.  He played in 19 games that season, amounting a .323 batting average on 20 hits in 72 plate appearances

He played for the Rockies through July 13, 2003 before he was traded to the Detroit Tigers. Proving unsuccessful in 43 games, Petrick was released later that season.

He attempted a comeback in the Minor Leagues first with the Portland Beavers, coming back to Oregon, and then with the Toledo Mud Hens before retiring.

After his retirement in May of 2004, Petrick let it be known that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease after the 1999 season. The truth came out that the Parkinson’s had largely affected his playing career, despite receiving medications.

Petrick returned to Glencoe High School as a football and baseball coach after he retired. When the Hops moved from Yakima, WA to start the 2013 season the Hops added him to their coaching staff as a consultant to help their young players transition to life as a baseball player. He will join the team for their fourth season, his fourth as well, in 2016.

The Hops will open their 2016 season on June 17 on the road against Salem-Keizer. The first home game is set for June 20 against the Eugene Emeralds.