Reggie Pruitt heads home with the first run of the game after a leadoff walk.
Javier Hernandez reminded Vancouver Canadians fans why he was the people’s choice last season. The Venezuelan catcher—who won the 2016 Ossie Chavarria Award winner as the Fan’s Favourite Player—delivered two key triples to drive in three runs to help the C’s double up the Everett AquaSox 8-4 at Nat Bailey Stadium Tuesday night.
Canadians starter Juan Nunez set the tone early by pumping gas in the mid-to-high 90’s to retire the AquaSox in order in the first. The C’s would get on the board first in their half of the first when Reggie Pruitt worked a leadoff walk against lefthander Michael Suarez. Pruitt would take off running on a 3-2 pitch to Lance Jones, who doubled to left to score Pruitt. Suarez would balk Jones to third and Norberto Obeso got a run batted in for putting the ball in play with a ground ball to second to make it 2-0 Vancouver after one.
The AquaSox would get their first run come in the second on a walk, a double and a groundout before tying it in the third on a single, a wild pitch and a throwing error. Hernandez tried to retire Greifer Andrade on a throw to first to complete a strikeout but he air mailed it instead, allowing Eugene Helder to scamper home with the tying run. Nunez would wind up with three strikeouts in the inning.
Meanwhile, the C’s had worked up the pitch count against Suarez in the second with a two-out rally that saw Mattingly Romanin reach base on an infield single to second before Kevin Vicuna grinded out an at-bat by fouling off a number of pitches before working the count to ball four. Pruitt would hit the ball hard but right at shortstop Osmy Gregorio to end the threat.
Lance Jones had a bunt single and would later score in the third inning.
Vancouver would take the lead again in the third when Jones dropped down a bunt single down the third base side before stealing second, reaching third on a wild pitch and scoring on a Bryan Lizardo base hit. Hernandez would then deliver his first triple of the night to cash in Lizardo to restore the Canadians’ two-run lead. Walks by Owen Spiwak and Romanin would load the bases but Vicuna flied out to leave the bases load.
Javier Hernandez stands at third after the first of his two triples on Wednesday.
The AquaSox would trim the lead to one in the fourth with a Gregorio single to left that eluded a diving Romanin at third. Gregorio moved to second on an errant pickoff throw by Nunez and to third on a fly ball. Lefty Grayson Huffman was summoned from the bullpen to get the final out but he walked the first man he faced before a base hit by Joseph Rosa scored Gregorio.
Huffman ran into more trouble when he allowed a bunt single to Andrade. It was a do-or-die play for Huffman, who dove for the ball up the first base side and tried to shovel the ball up with his glove but he could not scoop it cleanly. A double by Jonas Lantigua pushed Andrade to third and it looked like things were about to go off the rails for Huffman. However, the Grayson Community College product limited the damage to a single run. Joe Venturino knocked in the tying run with a groundout to third but another groundout and a strikeout stranded the potential go-ahead run at third. Hernandez had to complete the strikeout with a throw down to first and his aim was true to end the inning. Gregorio was the strikeout victim and he banged his batting helmet against the ground in frustration at first as the Sox missed a golden opportunity to grab their first lead of the night.
The fifth inning saw the C’s put together another rally that began with a Lizardo double against Everett southpaw Tyler Watson. A one-out Deiferson Barreto single pushed Lizardo to third but he could not score on a shallow fly ball to center from Spiwak. Romanin kept the inning alive with a walk to load up the bases before Vicuna heard ball four to finally bring in Lizardo with the go-ahead run to make it 5-4. Pruitt jumped on a 3-1 pitch but he lined out to left field to leave three men on base.
Huffman would shut down Everett in the sixth, only allowing a baserunner on a fielding error by Romanin at third. The C’s would get to work in the bottom half of the frame when Jones singled and Obeso reached on an error at short by Gregorio. Hernandez would then triple to right field for the second time to score Jones and Obeso to pad the Vancouver lead to 7-4. Hernandez would get to touch home plate on a Barreto base knock. Barreto would steal second but the C’s would have to settle for three runs.
That was all the scoring in this one. Of note, Jones would sky a popup that glanced off the glove of Gregorio at short in the seventh and Hernandez joined Jones in the three-hit club with a single in the eighth.
Orlando Pascual claimed the seventh and eighth innings for the C’s and allowed just a double in two scoreless frames. Jared Carkuff slammed the door shut with a one-hit ninth. Barreto made a nice play at short by ranging deep into the hole and making a strong throw to retire the speedy Helder. Carkuff then struck out Lantigua swinging to end the contest, giving Huffman his first victory of the season.
Lizardo and Barreto were one hit back of the clubhouse leaders Hernandez and Jones with two apiece. Romanin was aboard three times with a single and two free passes while Vicuna heard ball four twice. Jones and Barreto had stolen bases but Spiwak was caught trying to swipe second.
The C’s pitchers had nine strikeouts and two walks on the night. Nunez whiffed five, Huffman had two while Pascual and Carkuff each had one. The groundout leader was Huffman with five.
Radar Gun Rundown
Juan Nunez reached 98 miles per hour on the radar gun Wednesday night.
Juan Nunez had the widest range of velocity on the night. He was clocked as low as 77 miles per hour and as high as 98. He was consistently in the 94-96 range. Grayson Huffman touched 96 but was around 91-93 with some offerings at 84. Orlando Pascual reached 94 at one point with a low of 77 as well as 80-82. He ranged around 90-91 with his fastball. Jared Carkuff was as low as 85 and topped out at 93.
Blue Jays 2017 third-round pick Riley Adams brings his catching gear to the bullpen.
The first big roster shuffle of the season took place earlier in the day. Catcher Yorman Rodriguez and shortstop Jesus Severino were sent down to the Bluefield Blue Jays as their season begins in Greeneville Thursday evening. Coming to Vancouver are six picks from the 2017 draft by the Toronto Blue Jays. They are listed below with their uniform numbers.
- #17. Riley Adams, C, 3rd round – University of San Diego
- #30. Cullen Large, 2B, 5th round – College of William & Mary
- #31. Brock Lundquist, OF, 6th round – Cal State Long Beach
- #44. Kacy Clemens, 1B, 8th round – University of Texas-Austin
- #30. Donnie Sellers, RHP, 11th round – Wake Forest
- #32. Matt Shannon, RHP, 12th round – Angelo State
I was told by one club official the six arrived in Vancouver less than two hours before game time but they did take part in pregame warmups. Adams was catching Carkuff in the bullpen before Carkuff’s appearance in the ninth.
The C’s have clinched their second straight series victory and will try to go for the sweep Thursday afternoon. Dalton Rodriguez is scheduled to throw the first pitch at 1:05 pm. You can hear the game at CanadiansBaseball.com.
Vancouver has won five of seven to start the season but the Tri-City Dust Devils remain in first place in the Northwest League North Division with a 6-1 record.