Opening Night. Over-capacity crowd. First win of the season.
Monday evening could not have gone much better for the Hillsboro Hops, who broke in their new digs at Hillsboro Ballpark in smashing style, torching the Eugene Emeralds 12-0.
The Arizona Diamondbacks short-season Class A affiliate, Hillsboro is a member of the eight-team Northwest League and relocated from Yakima, Wash., prior to this season. In Yakima, the team was known as the Bears.
From the beginning today, when we get out there and they introduce the players and the whole staff, you can see the guys, theyre happy to be here, Hillsboro manager Audo Vicente said. Theyre enjoying what theyre doing now. For a lot of those guys, its probably the best place that theyve been in their short career.
The home opener ushered professional baseball back to the Portland area for the first time since the 2010 season, the last year the Triple-A Portland Beavers spent in Portland. To open this season, the Hops dropped their first three games at Salem-Keizer over the weekend, so Mondays victory witnessed by a sold-out crowd of 4,710 upped the teams record to 1-3.
At school, I think our games, we got a hundred (fans), said left fielder Zachary Esquerra, who had a double, a triple and two RBIs on Monday and played in college at Cal Baptist, an NCAA Division II school.
So here ... it was nuts. They give us a lot of energy, and so it was cool to have that much support.
Third baseman Jordan Parr, who was chosen in the 15th round of the MLB draft earlier this month, led Hillsboro with two hits including a towering two-run home run in the second inning and three RBIs. Brian Billigen and Yosbel Gutierrez added two hits apiece.
On that home run, Parr connected on the pitch he was looking for a fastball and the ball cleared the left field fence for the first home run at Hillsboro Ballpark.
You never go up there trying to hit a home run, Parr said. Im not a big-time power hitter. Im more of a gap-to-gap kind of guy. ... I put a good swing on the ball and it was a pitch I should drive. I did a good job staying within myself and doing my job.
In all, the Hops knocked Eugene starter Jeffrey Enloe and relievers Genison Reyes and Jairo Gomez for 12 hits. Hillsboro drove Enloe out of the game after just 2 1/3 innings with seven hits and six runs. In fact, the Hops scored at least one run in each of the first six innings.
Jose Martinez picked up the win in his first appearance of the season for the Hops. The 19-year-old native of the Dominican Republic gave up just two hits and two walks in five innings, while striking out four. Patrick Smith relieved Martinez for two hitless innings, and Alexander Carreras and Will Locante pitching an inning apiece.
The Hops were scheduled to take on the Emeralds again on Tuesday night (after press deadline). The teams will wrap up their three-game series today with a 7:05 p.m. contest. Ben Eckels (0-1, 4.50 ERA) has been projected as the Hillsboro starter, with Erik Cabrera (0-1, 16.87) pitching for Eugene.