The Vancouver Canadians took advantage of deficient defence, porous pitching and bad baserunning to escape with a 4-3 victory over the Eugene Emeralds at Nat Bailey Stadium Monday. The win brings Vancouver back to the .500 level at 2-2.
Eugene scored first against Gabriel Ponce in his professional debut. The 20 year-old product from Arizona Western College—taken in the 28th round by Toronto in this year’s draft—struck out his first batter but gave up his first hit to Luis Vazquez. A hit-and-run produced a groundout for the second out but Vazquez moved to second. He would score when Jake Slaughter singled on a 1-2 pitch.
Vancouver would answer that run in their first at-bat when Tanner Morris worked a leadoff walk against Eugene starter Didier Vargas. Trevor Schwecke singled Morris to second before Will Robertson ripped a base hit to bring home Morris. A Ronny Brito base knock loaded the bases with two outs. McGregory Contreras reached first on a fielder’s choice that allowed Schwecke to score and Robertson would also score on the play after a throwing error by Em’s second baseman Yonathan Perlaza.
Eugene would tie the game in the third after Ponce exited by retiring his last five batters. Lefthander Randy Pondler entered the game and walked Edmond Americaan on four pitches. Pondler picked off Americaan at first base and was one strike away from ending the inning but he walked Vazquez. That allowed Perlaza to atone for his error as he hit a two-run home run over the Hey Y’all Can in left-center field.
Vancouver would grab the lead again in the fourth when Contreras doubled down the left field line with two out. He would complete his trip around the bases on two wild pitches from Vargas, the latter also resulting in a walk to Brett Wright.
Pondler sat down seven of the last eight men he faced before giving way to Andy McGuire in the sixth. McGuire retired his first two hitters but a single and two walks loaded the bases. Dalton Hurd hit a slow roller to short on a 2-1 pitch to Morris at short and the Virginia Cavalier made the play to retire the side.
McGuire worked a clean seventh and Josh Almonte did the same in the eighth.
Lefty Luke Gillingham was summoned for the ninth inning and gave up a leadoff single to Caleb Knight. Fernando Kelli—the Northwest League’s 2018 co-winner of the stolen base crown along with the C’s Tanner Kirwer—pinch-ran for Knight. With two away, he committed the cardinal sin of making the final out on the basepaths. Kelli took off for third after Wright blocked a pitch that caused the ball to roll up the third base line. It appeared that had Kelli kept going, he would have made it to third. Instead, Kelli put on the brakes and tried to head back to second but Wright’s throw to Morris covering the bag was in time to get Kelli to end the game.
The C’s three-run first inning could have been bigger but a nice running catch by Brandon Vicens in right field off the bat of Wright ended the rally.
Pondler failed to cover first base in the third inning after a grounder to first by Jake Slaughter was deflected to Brito at second by Rodriguez at first. The play happened after Pondler gave up a two-run homer but he stranded a Slaughter stolen base at second by inducing an inning-ending infield pop-up.
Felipe Castaneda is joining Bluefield as they begin their Appalachian League season in Elizabethton Tuesday night. The 19 year-old righthander from Tecuala, Nayarit, Mexico appeared for the C’s on Opening Day and allowed four runs (two earned) over two innings.
Luis De Los Santos has been sent to Vancouver after spending time with Dunedin and Lansing. The 21 year-old shortstop from the Dominican Republic hit .205 with the Lugnuts in 25 games.
The C’s and Em’s play Game 2 of their four-game set Tuesday night which marks the annual ‘Bark in the Park’ at Nat Bailey Stadium. Pre-register your dog at CanadiansBaseball.com and your leashed canine companion gets in for free. First pitch is at 7:05 pm.