GREENVILLE, Ky — Despite being in the middle of their second game of the night, the Hoptown Hoppers, with the Paducah Chiefs losing both games of their doubleheader, clinched the top seed in the Ohio Valley League’s West Division on Friday during a doubleheader at Muhlenberg County.
Hoptown won the OVL last season after weather prevented the playoffs from being played.
The Hoppers (20-13) led Paducah by four games going into Friday and got some help from the Owensboro Oilers.
The first round of the playoffs start Friday with the Hoppers hosting the No. 4 team in the East Division. As of Friday, Muhlenberg County is in fourth in the East and the Hoppers are all too familiar with the Stallions after playing them three times in the last two days.
Hoptown split Friday’s doubleheader with the Stallions and beat Muhlenberg 12-7 in the first game with former Hopkins Central hurler Dalton Utley earning the victory on the mound.
The Hoppers had hits from every starter except one but were aided by five Stallion errors in the contest.
Just as they have the past three games, the Hoppers scored first and struck for three runs in the top of the first inning with RBIs from Reese Alexiades and Griffin Rivers.
Jonathan Jacks started on the mound for the Hoppers and struggled after allowing six earned runs in 3 1/3 innings.
Utley came on in relief and earned the decision after 1 2/3 innings of work. Jesse Philp pitched the last two innings for the save.
Muhlenberg held a 4-3 lead after the second but a Cody Cooper RBI then a three-run home run from Nolen Milton put the Hoppers in the lead and they never looked back.
Hoptown led 10-6 heading into the top of the seventh and Aidan Elias provided some insurance with a two-run home run to go up 12-6.
The Stallions added a run off of Philp in the bottom of the seventh but it wasn’t enough as the Hoppers earned their 20th victory of the season.
Alexiades and Milton each finished with three RBIs while Elias added two. Every Hoptown started scored in the contest.
In game two, the Hoppers scored two in the top of the first but a big bottom half gave the Stallions the lead in the 9-6 victory for Muhlenberg County.
Colin Kriminger got the start for Hoptown and didn’t last an inning as he gave up five earned runs on four walks in only 2/3 of an inning.
The Hoppers used four relievers in the game as Jake Larson, Alex Walker, Dustin Berrong and Taylor Fought also made appearances.
Berrong was dealt his first loss of the season and is now 7-1.
With only five hits in the game, the Hoppers were helped by four Stallion errors but it wasn’t enough.
The Hoppers will now be able to cruise into the playoffs as they play at 7 p.m. today at home against the Madisonville Miners.