Here’s a turn back the clock feature. The Vancouver Canadians hosted Game 1 of the Northwest League final against the Hillsboro Hops on Saturday, September 6, 2014. For the first 2-1/3 innings, all was right in Canadians Nation when the home side jumped out to a 5-0 lead.
An RBI single by Franklin Barreto scored a Roemon Fields double and Barreto would cross home plate on a passed ball. A Richard Urena base hit would lead to the third after Chris Carlson scored from second base. Urena did not get credited with an RBI as Hops catcher Stryker Trahan dropped the ball at home plate and was given an error. A two-out Ryan McBroom single accounted for the other Canadians runs in the second.
Starter Chase Mallard struck out the last two hitters in the first inning and retired the first seven hitters in a row. However, the Hops fought back with four runs off in the third inning with a single, a triple, another single and a home run. The run-scoring triple by Nate Robertson was nearly caught by a diving Jonathan Davis in left field. Davis, who was the defensive MVP of the North Division final with three incredible catches in left against Spokane in Game 1, could not come up with Robertson’s drive and looking back, I think that’s when the game really turned. Stewart Ijames, the oldest player in the series at 26, belted a two-run homer to cap off the rally. Mallard bounced back with two more shutout frames before turning the ball over to Alberto Tirado in the sixth. Tirado was victimized by a two-run homer by Trahan, the Diamondbacks first round pick in the 2012 draft. Hillsboro would add an insurance run off lefty Jose Fernandez in the seventh. Yeyfry Del Rosario struck out the side swinging in the eighth and Justin Shafer punched out two more in a one-hit ninth to keep the Hops at bay.
The C’s could not get anything going with the bats in the late going. A Fields leadoff walk in the seventh and a one-out single by Davis in the eighth were wasted. They did get the tying run on base on an Alexis Maldonado walk and a one-out base hit by Tim Locastro but Hops closer Zac Curtis struck out Barreto and got McBroom to tap one back to the mound and win the game. One curious move was made by Vancouver manager John Schneider in the ninth. He sent Boomer Collins to pinch-hit for Fields, who got on base in all four of his plate appearances with a double, a walk and two hit by pitches. Granted, Schneider got the platoon advantage by sending the right-handed bat of Collins against the southpaw Curtis but Collins slugged just .269 against lefties versus .313 against righties. Collins would pop up to short for the first out of the inning.
Hillsboro went on to win the Northwest League title the following night with a one-run victory in Oregon. It was a disappointing end to an otherwise exciting season. Congrats to the Hops but what was up with their uniforms? They looked more like t-shirts and you could barely see the logo. So much for the Stan Smyl line of dressing like clowns and playing like them.
The Hops winning has brought back Diamondback-related bad memories for me. They spoiled Pat Hentgen‘s last good start with the Jays in 2004 and the sight of Hops pitching coach Doug Drabek is a reminder of the disappointing career his son Kyle has had with the Jays so far after coming over from Philadelphia in the Roy Halladay deal.
Hopefully, the C’s will be able to serve Hillsboro a healthy dose of revenge in 2015 when they come to Vancouver for the home opener on June 26.