The Vancouver Canadians dropped the rubber match of their season opening series of 2019. Despite outhitting the Spokane Indians 13-8, the C’s fell 7-4 at Nat Bailey Stadium Sunday afternoon.
William Gaston—the first Cuban-born player to play for the Canadians—retired the first five hitters he faced, striking out the first two batters. He was a strike away from retiring the side in order in the second inning but Luis Ascunsion doubled on an 0-2 pitch before Scott Kaypers reached base on a hit by pitch. Jonah McReynolds and Obie Ricumstrict followed with RIB singles to put Spokane ahead 2-0. A visit from pitching coach Demetre Kokoris settled Gaston down as he retired the next four hitters in a row.
The righthander Gaston faced just one batter over the minimum through the next two innings thanks to a 4-3 lineout double play in the fourth and stranded a hit by pitch and stolen base in the fifth. C’s catcher Jesus Lopez made an accurate throw to second in a bid to get Ricumstrict but shortstop Tanner Morris could not hang onto the ball. Gaston got Kenen Irizarry to ground out to first to end his five-inning outing.
A Yorman Rodriguez first inning single stranded at second after an errant pickoff throw by Joshua Javier was all the C’s could get had in the first four frames.
Vancouver finally responded in the fifth when Jesus Lopez led off with a double to greet Indians reliever Glen Richardson. He advanced to third on a McGregory Contreras groundout in which Jayce Easley showed good range to prevent the ball from getting through. Davis Schneider would strike out for the second out but Lopez would score on a two-out throwing error by Spokane shortstop Cristian Inoa on a routine groundball from Dominic Abbadessa. After reaching second on the throwing error, Abbadessa got to third on a wild pitch before scoring the tying run on a base hit by Adrian Ramos.
Spokane would snap the tie in the sixth when Inoa redeemed himself with a bloop single to left against C’s righthander Adams Cuevas. A two-run double by Ascunsion and a run-scoring double by Kapers put the Indians ahead before Obie Ricumstrict lined a two-run homer to left field to make it 7-2.
Vancouver looked to chip away at the five-run deficit in their half of the sixth when Rodriguez, Lopez and Contreras all singled to load the bases with two away. Schneider worked the count to 3-1 but swung on a potential ball four and went down swinging against Richardson.
After a bat-around sixth inning for Spokane, Cuevas found his form with a 1-2-3 seventh. The C’s tried to rally again in their half of the seventh when Ramos and Cameron Eden singled with one out off Josh Smith but Spokane got a fortunate bounce when a Tanner Morris groundball took a crazy hop into the glove of Easley at second base who threw to Inoa at short for a 4-6 fielder’s choice. Rodriguez grounded into another fielder’s choice to strand runners at the corners.
Cuevas left the game in the eighth after getting the first two batters. Lefthander Nicolas Medina gave up a hit but finished up the frame with a strikeout.
Ronny Brito began the home half of the eighth by lifting a lazy fly ball to right off reliever Juan Castillo but Ricumstrict lost the ball in the sun and then booted it to give Brito a double and an extra 90 feet. Lopez scored Brito with a base hit to bring the C’s to within four. Contreras followed with a walk but three straight flyball outs sent the game to the ninth.
Medina faced the minimum in the ninth by picking off a leadoff walk to Easley. The C’s responded in the bottom half when Eden’s leadoff double was brought home by a Morris single. Rodriguez got ahead in the count at 3-1 but he fouled a ball off his leg. After shaking it off, he went down swinging on the next pitch. A Brito base hit brought the tying run to the plate and a new Indians reliever in Sam Hellinger. He struck out the last two hitters to save the game for Spokane.
The C’s have added three new pitchers to the roster. Nick Fraze—the Blue Jays 22nd round pick of this month’s draft—arrived in Vancouver with fellow righthanders Gabriel Ponce and Alex Nolan. Ponce was the Jays’ 28th round selection from Arizona Western College while the Burlington, Ontario-born Nolan was a free-agent signing from the Brock Badgers. Fraze will wear #36 while Ponce and Nolan get #38 and #33 respectively.
Vancouver begins a four-game set against the defending Northwest League champion Eugene Emeralds at Nat Bailey Stadium Monday. The first three games are 7:05 pm starts with Thursday’s finale at 1:05 pm. Rob Fai will have the call of all four games on Sportsnet 650 The Fan.