Jul 20, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; First overall pick in the 2015 MLB draft Dansby Swanson looks on after signing with the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
It is never too early for playoff baseball. Four teams in the Minor League system of the Arizona Diamondbacks have postseason series this week. I am not sure if any of the other three franchises involved will have quite the drama that was on display by the Hillsboro Hops of the Northwest League. It was capped by the #1 overall pick in this year’s Draft.
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Dansby Swanson‘s long fly ball with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 13th inning propelled Hillsboro to the Northwest League Championship with a 6-5 victory over the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. the Hops were down 3-0 after three innings but got two runs apiece in the fifth and six innings to take a 4-3 lead. The advantage held until the top of the 9th when the Volcanoes slugged two solo home runs to regain the upper hand. In the bottom of the ninth, Trevor Mitsui knocked in Swanson with a single to even the score and send the game into extra frames. In the final inning, three consecutive batters reached base for the Hops before Swanson’s big fly.
In the best of three series, Salem got the jump in their building, doubling up Hillsboro by a score of 4-2. With their collective backs against the wall, the Hops turned to Northwest Pitcher of the Year Carlos Hernandez to keep their championship dreams alive. The 21-year old right-hander did not disappoint, striking out 12 and not allowing a run over 6 1/3 innings as the bats came alive during an 8-0 victory. Third baseman Nate Robertson hit a home run and drove in three runs while left fielder Grant Heyman went 3 for 5 as the Hops pounded out 11 hits.
Hillsboro looks for a repeat championship with a best of three showdown against the Tri-City Dust Devils. First game is tonight, at 7:05 PST at the Hilltops’ home ballpark, Ron Tonkin Field.