When Jason Hoppe (Minnesota State) made his first start for the Chinooks exactly one week ago, undoubtedly nerves ran high. That night he surrendered five earned runs on eight hits in a loss to Eau Claire. What a difference a week makes…
Tuesday night the Chinooks looked to even up their two game set with Wisconsin after suffering a tough loss just one night ago. Unfortunately for Chinook fans, this night saw more heartbreak in a 1-0 loss to the Woodchucks.
Before Hoppe took the mound, the Chinooks offense mounted a threat against Woodchucks starter Jason Peter. Back to back singles by German Reyes (Winston Salem) and Bre’ Kimbell (Louisiana Tech) put two runners on base with only one out. Peter was able to get Eric Aguilera (Illinois State) to ground into the inning ending double play.
Hoppe came out firing, striking out all three Woodchuck hitters he faced to open the game. He did not allow a hit until the third when Brad McKewon singled with two outs. The Woodchucks plated the only run of the contest when Madison Carter ripped a double into the gap scoring McKewon from first. That threat was quickly snuffed out by centerfielder Ryan Ussery (Alabama-Birmingham) who fired the ball in quickly to cut down Carter who was trying to leg out a triple.
After dogging the bullet in the third, Hoppe put it back in cruise control. He began a brilliant stretch that saw him retire nine consecutive batters, six by way of a punch out. The Woodchucks in the seventh inning put the leadoff man on, only to see Hoppe strikeout two consecutive hitters after Nate Ruzich (South Suburban College) erased JD Davis trying to steal.
The only other significant threat mounted by Chinooks offence came in the fourth inning when both Aguilera and Brian Anderson (Aransas) reached with two down. Aguilera quickly executed a rare steal of third, putting the tying run just ninety feet away. The clutch hit again eluted the Chinooks as Ryan Ussery flew out to deep right field for out number three.
Despite the loss, no string of adjectives would do justice as to how well Jason Hoppe pitched Tuesday. His final numbers: 7 2/3 innings, 4 hits, 1 run, 1 walk, and a franchise best 12 strikeouts.
The Chinooks return home for game one of a home series with the Green Bay Bullfrogs. The first 750 fans will receive a Chinooks logo baseball sponsored by Associated Bank. After the game, all players and coaches will be available for autographs.