Matt Morgan crosses the plate and is greeted by Mattingly Romanin and Reggie Pruitt after hitting a game-tying two-run homer in the eighth.
The Vancouver Canadians offence broke through in the nick of time to defeat the Emeralds 9-8 at Nat Bailey Stadium Sunday afternoon.
Eugene looked like they had this one in the bag after overcoming a 6-4 deficit with four runs in the top of the eighth. They were just five outs away from victory when Junior Marte plunked Mattingly Romanin to bring the tying run up to the plate in Matt Morgan. His batting average sunk to as low as .050 after going 0-for-2 earlier in the day, leaving him 1-for-20 on the season. Morgan singled in his next at-bat to start a three-run rally in the seventh but he saved his big swing for the eighth by hammering one to left field for a two-run home run to tie the game at 8-8.
Cullen Large then had a hustle double to shallow right field with two outs to extend the eighth and that was followed by a walk to Brock Lundquist and a hit by pitch to the foot of Kacy Clemens, who hobbled down the first base line in considerable pain but managed to stay in the game. Bryan Lizardo then took four straight pitches outside of the strike zone to score Large with the winning run.
Jose Espada struck out seven batters in 4-2/3 innings against Eugene Sunday.
The C’s took the first lead of the game after Jose Espada retired the Emeralds in order with a lineout and two strikeouts. Reggie Pruitt pulled a double to left on the second pitch of the game from Alonso Garcia and went to third on a groundball to the right side of the infield by Large, who appeared to pass along advice to Lundquist outside the batter’s box and then to Clemens in the on-deck circle on his way back to the dugout. Lundquist then doubled to right to score Pruitt easily to make it 1-0 C’s. After going 2-for-21 with runners in scoring position Saturday, the C’s had a chance to match that hit total in their first at-bat. However, Clemens flied out and Lizardo struck to leave Lundquist 180 feet away from scoring.
Vancouver Canadians manager Rich Miller argues with the base umpire after an overturned call on a hit by pitch from Jose Espada.
The second inning seemed to be a case of deja-vu all over again as the Emeralds put together a four-ran rally. Espada gave up a single to Gustavo Polanco after getting ahead 0-2 in the count before giving up a single to Austin Filiere that eluded Deiferson Barreto at short. Espada then plunked Jhonny Bethencourt to load up the bases. It appeared that the base umpire ruled the pitch did not hit him at first and Eugene manager Jose Feliciano came out to argue. Bethencourt then showed the base umpire his hand where he was struck and it was compelling enough evidence for the ump to overturn the call and award Bethencourt first base. Vancouver skipper Rich Miller came out to argue but it was to no avail. Kwang-Min Kwon tied it with a sacrifice fly but Espada retired Jose Gonzalez for the second out on a diving catch by Pruitt on a blooper in center but Tolly Filotei doubled home two runs to give Eugene their first lead. Morgan tried to nail Filotei at second but he threw the ball away and allowed Filotei to score the Emeralds’ fourth run.
Vancouver would get back to work in their half of the second when Owen Spiwak doubled to right field. He was awarded third base after a balk by Garcia and would score on a Barreto ground ball to short to cut Eugene’s lead to two.
Espada responded with his second 1-2-3 inning in the third, ending the frame with two more strikeouts to get the C’s back on offence. One-out base knocks by Lundquist and Clemens put runners on the corners and Lizardo grounded out to short to plate Lundquist to make it a one-run game. The C’s still remained one hit away from matching their two hits with runners in scoring position from Saturday.
Espada struck out two more batters in the fourth and saw a walk to Bethencourt erased when Morgan threw down to first to pick off the Emeralds second baseman. The C’s got a runner on third with one out when Romanin doubled to center and advanced to third on another balk by Garcia. Morgan could not bring him home as he flied out to shallow center field while Pruitt tapped back to the mound as Eugene held on to their one-run lead.
Brayden Bouchey stranded three runners for Jose Espada in the fifth after this pitch.
The Emeralds had a chance to widen their lead when they loaded the bases with one out on walks to Gonzalez and Aramis Ademan and a single by Filotei in between. Espada would induce a pop-up to second by Tyler Payne for the second out before Brayden Bouchey emerged from the bullpen. The pride of White Rock, BC managed to get Polanco to fly out to center and keep the deficit at 4-3.
Other than a Barreto two-out single in the sixth, Vancouver was silenced on offence in their next two at-bats. Bouchey did his part by retiring the side in order in the sixth thanks to a strike ’em out-throw ’em out double play to end the frame and working around a two-out walk in the seventh.
Kacy Clemens celebrates after scoring a run in the seventh inning Sunday.
After stretch time, the C’s got something cooking when Morgan singled and Pruitt taking one for the team. Large bunted the runners over but Lundquist struggled. That put it all on the shoulders of Clemens and he fell behind in the count 0-2 before ripping a single to left off Elvis Diaz to score Morgan and Pruitt with the tying and go-ahead runs. Finally, that second hit with runners 180 feet or less away from the plate. Clemens got himself into scoring position by stealing second and wound up scoring on a two-base error by Bethencourt at second on a ground ball by Lizardo, who proceeded to steal third but Spiwak flied out to end the inning.
All of a sudden, the C’s appeared to be on their way to a storybook vcitory and Bouchey was in line for the win on this Canada Day weekend. Unfortunately for Bouchey, the Emeralds wrecked those plans when Payne doubled and made it to third by beating out a throw from Barreto at short on a ground ball from Polanco. A walk to Filiere loaded the bases and that was the end of the line for Bouchey.
William Ouellette entered the game in the unenviable position of the bases loaded with nobody out. He was greeted by consecutive base hits from Bethencourt and Kwan that—combined with a throwing error by Pruitt in center—resulted in three runs crossing the plate to give the Em’s the lead. They tacked on an insurance run when Edgar Rondon laid down a bunt single to second to bring home Bethencourt.
The C’s bullpen celebrates after Matt Morgan‘s home run.
Vancouver appeared to be in tough to rally from an 8-6 deficit when Marte entered the game to relieve Diaz. Marte—who dominated the C’s with two shutout innings that included four K’s in the opener of the series—retired Barreto for the first out before plunking Romanin and serving up the game-tying dinger to Morgan and the bases-loaded walk to Lizardo.
Ouellette had a clean slate to work with in the ninth and struck out Payne and Polanco and was one strike away from retiring the side before Filiere earned a walk. Ouellette would retire Bethencourt on a fly ball to Pruitt to clinch the 9-8 victory. Ouellette ran his record to 3-0 on the season. Lundquist, Clemens, Romanin and Morgan shared the hit lead with two apiece. Only Lizardo did not have a hit but still drove in a pair.
William Ouellette and Matt Morgan celebrate after the final out.
Though the C’s were just 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position, they did manage to get some productive outs to push a few more runs across the plate.
Espada gave up four runs (three earned) on four hits and three runs but struck out seven over 4-2/3 innings. Bouchey was touched up for three runs on a hit and three walks with one punchout over 2-1/3 innings. Ouellette was knocked around for three hits and a walk and was charged with a run of his own after allowing all three inherited runners to score but he rebounded with two strikeouts in the ninth.
Radar Gun Rundown
Jose Espada was clocked from 80-93 miles per hour. His first inning strikeouts registered at 86, another one was at 89, two others were on 80 offerings and there was one more at 85. Brayden Bouchey was in the 89-90 range but had a strikeout at 93 and went as low as 77. William Ouellette ranged from 80-94 but was all over the low 90’s.
There was a scary incident in the fifth when Brock Lundquist lost control of his bat on a swing as it went all the way to the netting of the backstop. Nobody was hurt but the bat broke so Lundquist had to get some new lumber. Lundquist also broke a bat on his third inning single.
2015 C’s second baseman Lane Thomas is now with the St. Louis Cardinals as the Toronto Blue Jays traded him there for international bonus pool money. Thomas was a fifth-round pick of the Jays in 2014. He hit five homers and 13 doubles while stealing five bases with Vancouver.
Vancouver remains tied with Tri-City for first place in the North Division at 11-7 after the Dust Devils beat Salem-Keizer on Sunday. The C’s, the Dust Devils and the Emeralds all share identical records with Eugene one game up on Hillsboro in the South.
The fifth and final game of between the C’s and the Em’s goes Monday at 7:05 pm. Vancouver has a chance to clinch not only this series but the season series as well after winning three of five in Eugene to start the season. As usual, the game will be on CanadiansBaseball.com and TSN 1040. Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry will be on hand to sign autographs during the game.