A steely effort from the C’s bullpen and just enough offence provided the Vancouver Canadians with their first victory of 2019 as they slipped by the Spokane Indians 3-1 at Nat Bailey Stadium Saturday. The Canadians pitching staff racked up 19 strikeouts and kept the Indians bats in check by limiting them to three hits.
Vancouver starter Grant Townsend set the tone early by striking out the side in the first inning to strand a two-out double by Cristian Inoa and he would ring up two more in the second as part of a three-up, three-down inning.
The Canadians would grab their first lead of 2019 when Yorman Rodriguez doubled to left field off Wyatt Sparks and would score with some good acumen on the basepaths. He tagged up to go to third on a Davis Schneider fly ball and got a good break toward home on an Adrian Ramos ground ball to second, sliding across home plate safely to beat the throw from Kenen Irizarry to score the game’s first run even with the Spokane infield playing in. Ramos would steal second and then get to third on a Brett Wright infield single to second. A passed ball from David Garcia allowed Ramos to score the C’s second run.
Townsend walked the first two men he faced in the third but got an out when Starling Joseph reached on a fielder’s choice to put runners on the corners. Spokane manager Kenny Hook argued that Schneider did not touch the second base bag on the throw over from Ronny Brito at third. Base umpire Nick McFarland gave Schneider the benefit of the doubt on the “neighbourhood play” but Schneider’s throw was too late to get the speedy Starling Joseph at first.
However, the Indians got a break when a balk by Townsend brought in Obie Ricumstrict to score. Townsend faked a throw to third without stepping off the pitching rubber first. He bounced back by whiffing Inoa for his sixth strikeout of the night and was a strike away from getting out of the third. A walk to Ryan Anderson on a 3-2 pitch and a hit by pitch on an 0-2 offering to Jonah McReynolds loaded the bases and produced Townsend’s exit from the game. Lefthander Luke Gillingham came in and stranded all three runners by getting Max Morales to hit a slow roller in front of the plate. Wright pounced on the ball and made a low throw that was scooped up by Rodriguez to keep Vancouver in front.
The C’s added an insurance in the eighth when Rodriguez doubled again to start the frame. He managed not to get doubled up when Schneider lined one back to the mound at Jeifry Nunez. Wright then lined a ball that nearly cleared the short fence with two away but it was a double that would bring in Rodriguez to make it 3-1 Vancouver.
Spokane would get the tying run to the plate when Garcia walked with one out but Josh Almonte froze Irizarry with a called strike three to get the save.
Grayson Huffman was credited with the victory with 1-2/3 innings of shutout ball, walking two and striking out four after relieving Gillingham, who struck out three over 1-1/3 innings of one-hit ball. Gage Burland dominated in his 2-1/3 innings of work, striking out five to offset a couple of hits before turning the ball over to Almonte in the ninth. Townsend struck out six while giving up a hit and walking four over 2-2/3 innings.
Werner Leal tossed 2-2/3 innings of one-hit ball and struck out four for Spokane out of the bullpen.
The C’s got a break into the second inning that helped them take the lead. Ramos lifted a foul ball along the third base side and it bounced into the seats before the short wall, just beyond the reach of Spokane third baseman Stanly Martinez. Ramos would put the ball in play to bring in Rodriguez with the game’s first run.
Dominic Abbadessa was robbed of a hit when Joseph made a diving catch in center field in the second inning.
Wright had a two-hit night and showed good hustle on the basepaths in the fourth inning. His running hard to first base forced Irizarry to make an errant throw from second base to get on base. He then helped prevent a double play with an aggressive slide into second. Wright was robbed of a hit when Irizarry climbed the ladder to make a leaping catch to begin the sixth.
Ronny Brito made a nice pick of a sharp ground ball by Martinez and Rodriguez helped out with a nice scoop at first base to begin the ninth.
Townsend was in the 91-95 mile per hour range with offerings in the 79-82 range. Gillingham threw curveballs in the 74-76 range and topped out in the mid-80s. Huffman was around 91 to 95 and Burland was around 85-86 and 93-95. Almonte reached 93.
The C’s and Indians will play the rubber match of their three-game against Spokane Sunday. William Gaston is set to throw the first pitch at 1:05 pm.