After taking two of three from the Spokane Indians to begin the homestand, the Vancouver Canadians were hoping to extend their two-game winning streak against the Boise Hawks. They were also hoping to get a measure of revenge against the Birds, who helped derailed their first-half playoff hopes by winning three out of five in Idaho in July.
The Rockies affiliate tried to get something going in the first with a single and a walk to start the game against Luis Sanchez but Sanchez’s batterymate Javier Hernandez threw out a runner at second to help snuff out that threat. The C’s then started a two-out rally in their half of the first with a Joshua Palacios triple. He would later score on a wild pitch by Breiling Eusebio. J.B. Woodman was hit by a pitch before the wild pitch and Nash Knight followed with a base hit to put two men aboard for Christian Williams, who delivered an opposite-field, three-run homer to left to make it 4-0 Vancouver.
The game stayed that way until the fourth when in a span of four batters, Boise chopped the lead in half against Sanchez with a hit by pitch, a double, a balk and and an RBI groundout. The Hawks would tie it by scoring twice again in the fifth in another span of four hitters – using a triple, a single/error by Yeltsin Gudino at short, a sacrifice bunt and a sacrifice fly to get the job done. Grayson Huffman was called in to strand a runner and get the final out of the fifth but he surrendered the go-ahead run in the fifth by really shooting himself in the foot. The lefty gave up a one-out single before an errant pickoff throw resulted in the runner winding up at third. To top it off, Huffman uncorked a wild pitch that allowed the runner to score. Gabe Noyalis got the ball in the ninth and kept it to a one-run deficit with a perfect ninth with one K.
Boise brought in fireballing Julian Fernandez and his 100 MPH fastball to close things out. He got Hernandez to fly out and D.J. McKnight, who doubled in his previous at-bat, to strike out. Cavan Biggio, who drew a pair of walks earlier, kept hopes alive with a hustle double on a ball hit to the right fielder. However, Gudino flied out to right to end the game as Boise came from behind to win 5-4.
Patrick Murphy, the Northwest League’s ERA leader, got the call for the final Sunday afternoon game of 2016. He won his earlier start against the Hawks in Boise with six innings of one-run ball July 13 but he wasn’t nearly as sharp this time around. Murphy stranded a single and stolen base in the first inning but gave up a pair of runs in the second. An error by Cavan Biggio led to one of the runs being unearned as the Hawks used a pair of singles, a walk, a run-scoring groundout combined with the Biggio error and a Murphy wild pitch.
Murphy retired the side in order in the third but trouble started again in the fourth with a leadoff walk by Luis Castro and a bad pickoff throw resulting in Castro getting to third. Campbell Wear wore out Murphy with a run-scoring double but was cut down at third on a throw by Joshua Palacios from center field. Singles by Daniel Suero, Steven Linkous and Eric Toole loaded the bases and Murphy uncorked another wild pitch to score Suero, putting Boise up 4-0.
Meanwhile, Boise starter Antonio Santos was cruising right along. He retired the first seven hitters to begin the game before D.J. McKnight drew a walk. Santos had a no-hitter until Yeltsin Gudino singled with two outs in the fourth.
Murphy turned the ball over to Zach Jackson in the sixth and he worked a perfect frame.The C’s had their first semblance of a rally in the home half of the sixth when Rodrigo Orozco and Joshua Palacios had back-to-back singles off Santos with two outs. For Palacios, that extended his hitting streak to 12 games and his on-base streak to 25. However, Palacios and Orozco were not going anywhere but back to the dugout after Santos got McKnight to fly out to left to end the treat.
Jackson came back out for the seventh and set down the first two hitters in a row, including a strikeout, before walking Garrett Hampson and Willie Abreu. Lefty Evan Smith was summoned from the bullpen and got a couple of ground balls to short. Neither of them resulted in outs as an infield single and a Gudino error expanded the Boise lead to 6-0. Smith was burned for another run in the eighth on a leadoff triple by Suero and an infield single by Toole at second that Smith got a piece of. Smith would strike out a pair and retire the last five hitters he faced.
Brandon Gold took over for Santos in the eighth and retired three in a row before a leadoff single in the ninth by Orozco. Groundouts by Palacios and pinch-hitter Josh Reavis (subbing for J.B. Woodman) pushed Orozco to third base, the first and only time a C’s runner made it to third. Andres Sotillo grounded out to third to end the game and was shaken up after tumbling to the ground. Sotillo was okay and was helped up by the first baseman Abreu before Abreu and his team celebrated a 7-0 whitewash.
Two other players were shaken up earlier in the contest, one for each side. Gudino was down for the count in shallow center field after a catch by Palacios in the seventh. A deep fly ball hit by Christian Williams, making a bid to extend his seven-game hitting streak, resulted in Linkous crashing heavily into the center field wall. Linkous was down for a few moments but was okay to continue. Williams definitely crushed that ball and Linkous did well to keep a hold of it with his glove.
Radar Gun Rundown
Murphy was clocked at 80-82 MPH with one K at 80. He was in the 92-95 range with one pitch touching 96. Jackson’s lowest pitch was 85 and his highest was 98. He peppered the high 80’s and low-to-mid 90’s with his offerings. Smith ranged from 74, 82-83 and 89-94. For Boise, Santos hit 93 MPH and Gold was at 92.
Dalton Rodriguez gets the start Monday for the C’s in a 7:05 pm start at the Nat and Denis Diaz will get the nod in the series finale at 1:05 pm Wednesday according to the C’s press notes. Tuesday night’s 7:05 start remains up in the air as to who will get to throw the game’s first pitch. It may or may not be T.J. Zeuch. The 2016 first-round pick was slated to start the last game of the Hillsboro series and then he was listed to start the series opener against Spokane but he was a no-show on the mound both times so who knows at this point.