The Hillsboro Hops' dominant Northwest League run continued Sunday night as the Hops, the D-backs' Class A Short-Season affiliate, clinched their second consecutive NWL championship with a 6-1 victory over Tri-City.
The Hops scored four runs in the second inning as the league's Pitcher of the Year, Carlos Hernandez, struck out seven in 5 2/3 innings to clinch the championship. Hillsboro has won four straight division titles and back-to-back league titles since relocating from Yakima, Wash., in 2013.
Hillsboro had the NWL's best regular-season record, at 45-31, with a roster that included five of the D-backs' Top 30 Prospects: shortstop Dansby Swanson (No. 1), left-handers Alex Young (No. 6) and Cody Reed (No. 11), shortstop Sergio Alcantara (No. 19) and right-hander Taylor Clarke (No. 25).
"To get a bunch of guys at a low-level Minor League team to commit themselves to winning is special," Hops manager Shelley Duncan told MiLB.com. "The credit really should go to the players. For them to sacrifice some of their personal numbers and statistics and to give themselves to winning baseball games is a very special quality."
Hernandez did not give up a hit after Tri-City's Carlos Belen hit a leadoff homer in the second.
"When Carlos gets in a groove, throwing his fastball for strike one and getting a good feel for his changeup and breaking ball, he almost becomes unhittable," Duncan told MiLB.com. "In the second or third inning, he started to get that feel. When he gets in that rhythm, where he just starts pumping strikes and pulling the string on the changeup, he becomes unhittable. That's what we saw with him in the middle of the game. That's the Carlos that earned the Northwest League Pitcher of the Year."
Joey Nowak is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joeynowak. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.