The Hillsboro Hops scored four times and made four errors but it was enough to give them the opening game of this five-game set as they prevailed over the Vancouver Canadians 4-3 at Nat Bailey Stadium Saturday.
Juan Nunez opened the first inning with a strikeout of Yan Sanchez on three pitches before getting a groundball to short off the bat of Bryan Araiza. Instead of two quick outs to start the game, Kevin Vicuna made a throwing error to allow Araiza to get aboard. Eudy Ramos followed with a single to right that short-hopped in front of Brock Lundquist, who nearly threw out Araiza for a force play at second. Pavin Smith would open the scoring by lining a single to left to score Araiza. A liner right at third baseman Deiferson Barreto off the bat of Camden Duzenack nicked off his glove and resulted in a double to score Ramos. Daulton Varsho scored Smith with an infield single at second and a hard smash by Tra’mayne Holmes was too hot to handle for Nunez on the mound as Nunez had to throw to first to get Holmes instead of home to get Duzenack and it was 4-0 Hillsboro. Nunez concluded the first with a strikeout of Luke Lowery.
The C’s would get half of that back in the first when Reggie Pruitt reached on an infield single to short before Vicuna was plunked by Hops starter Luis Madero. Vicuna was down for quite a while but he dusted himself off and headed to first. Cullen Large hit one right on the screws but he lined out to center for the first out. Riley Adams got aboard on a fielder’s choice to score Pruitt and advance Vicuna to third after a throwing error by Ramos at third. David Jacob lifted a sacrifice fly to bring Vicuna home but Lundquist grounded out to stop the rally.
Both teams went down quietly in the second that featured a diving stop by Jacob at first to end the top half of the frame. The Hops put together a one-out rally in the third on a single by Smith and a walk by Duzenack but Nunez struck out Ramos and Varsho and retired Holmes on a groundout. Vicuna singled with one out and was bunted to second by Large but Adams struck out and Jacob grounded out to conclude the inning.
Juan Nunez had a tough first inning but shut down Hillsboro over the next four.
Nunez retired the side in order in the fourth with a huge assist from Brandon Polizzi as he laid out to make a diving catch in left to rob Sanchez of extra bases to end the frame. Polizzi’s catch rivals that of the one made by Pruitt in center Thursday night as the defensive play of the year.
ICYMI // C’s CF @rjpruitt08 makes an amazing catch vs Spokane during Thursday’s WIN!
— Vancouver Canadians (@vancanadians) July 15, 2017
The C’s tried to build on the momentum of that catch when Lundquist led off with a walk in the bottom of the fourth. Polizzi could not translate his defensive heroics to his bat as he struck out and Barreto would smash one back up the middle but Madero made the stop on the mound and started a 1-4-3 double play.
Nunez ran into some trouble in the fifth when he walked Araiza and could not hang on to the ball on an attempted 3-6-1 double play started by Jacob at first that allowed Ramos to get on base. A Smith single put Ramos into scoring position but Nunez struck out Duzenack and retired Varsho on a fly to left.
Vancouver got a break when Matt Morgan reached base on a routine grounder to short but Duzenack’s throw sailed high and Morgan had to duck out of the way to get aboard. Morgan showed good hustle getting down the line and he would be rewarded for it. He moved up to second on a bunt by Pruitt before coming home on a Vicuna single. Vicuna would make it to second on the play on a throwing error by Holmes in center. Vicuna would swipe third for his 10th stolen base of the year but Large and Adams both struck out to leave the tying run 90 feet away.
Lefthander Jake Fishman took over for Nunez in the sixth and needed just seven pitches to mow down the Hops in order, concluding with a strikeout of Dan Swain. Vancouver went down quietly in their half of the sixth. David Jacob was replaced by Kacy Clemens at first base to start the seventh after grounding out to third in the previous half-inning. Fishman worked around a one-out hit by Smith to get the C’s back up to the dish. The only man to reach base was Morgan as he drew a one-out walk against Hillsboro reliever Matt Peacock.
Jake Fishman stayed hydrated and cooled off the Hops with four shutout innings Saturday.
Fishman sat down the Hops in order in the eighth but the Hops returned the favour by retiring the C’s in order as Peacock got the first two outs before Anfernee Benitez struck out Clemens in a lefty-on-lefty matchup.
The ninth inning saw Fishman survive a one-out double to Swain with a pair of strikeouts by getting Sanchez on a called strike three before Araiza went down swinging.
Lundquist got on base to start the ninth by earning a walk against Erbert Gonzalez. Brandon Polizzi could not get a bunt down and fell behind in the count 1-2 as he disagreed with the umpire about the location of that pitch. Polizzi had walked away in disgust out of the batter’s box before the umpire motioned to him to get back in the box. Polizzi thought he had earned a walk by removing his shin guard but there was one problem, it was only ball three. Polizzi tried to sneak a ground ball up the middle but Duzenack knocked it down at short and recovered to throw out Polizzi by a step at first. Barreto then hit a tapper back to the mound and Gonzalez was able to trap Lundquist in a rundown between second and third. Gonzalez threw to Ramos at third and he executed the rundown perfectly by tagging out Lundquist quickly and keeping Barreto from advancing into second base. Gonzalez then ended the game by getting Morgan swinging on strike three.
The C’s had just three hits, three walks and a hit by pitch. Vicuna accounted for two of the knocks and the knockdown. Vancouver was just 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position and six men were left on base.
Nunez had six strikeouts over five innings but took the loss to fall to 2-2. Two of the four runs he allowed were unearned. Fishman sat down five over his four shutout innings.
Radar Gun Rundown
Juan Nunez was as high as 98 miles per hour and as low as 72 in this one. The curve at 72 nearly plunked the batter in the head and then lost control of a 75 MPH bender but the curve was working well for him on this night. Nunez had strikeouts registered at 79, 79, 77, and 77. He was around 95 with his heater along with some pitches in the 90-91 range.
Jake Fishman touched 94 MPH and went as low as 78. He had strikeouts registered at 82, 91 and 80. He settled in around 90-92.
2014 Canadians Roemon Fields singled and walked and Rowdy Tellez singled and walked but Buffalo dropped another one to Scranton. 2011 infielder Jon Berti walked and stole his ninth base.
2015 righty Francisco Rios pitched well by giving up just two runs over six innings and 2014 lefty Jose Fernandez threw a scoreless frame for New Hampshire in their Game 1 loss to Portland. Game 2 saw Gunnar Heidt (2014-2015) homer and Jonathan Davis (2014) double as the Fisher Cats split the twinbill. Andrew Case (2014-2015) notched his fifth save.
Josh DeGraaf (2015) improved to 3-0 with 5-2/3 innings of three run ball (two earned) with six strikeouts to help Dunedin knock off Bradenton. Ryan Cook (2015) walked just one over 1-1/3 shutout frames. Max Pentecost (2014) was 3-for-5, Cavan Biggio (2016) had two hits and knocked home a run, Juan Kelly (2015) singled and walked twice and D.J. Davis (2012) drew three walks. Biggio stole his 10th base while Davis swiped his 20th.
Rodrigo Orozco (2015-2016) had a double and two RBI, Josh Palacios (2016) singled and walked and Nick Sinay (2016) singled and was hit by a pitch but the Lugnuts lost against Wisconsin. Denis Diaz pitched a one-hitter over two frames and struck out four.
Bluefield had a three-hit night from Yorman Rodriguez and two from Chavez Young and Jesus Severino as the trio of 2017 C’s led their club to victory over Danville.
Vancouver’s lead in the Northwest League North Division was cut down to two games after the Tri-City Dust Devils won in Boise against the Hawks. The 18-12 C’s face the Hops again for a 1:05 pm start at The Nat Sunday afternoon. The game will be carried by TSN 1040 and CanadiansBaseball.com.