The Vancouver Canadians enjoy playing in front of a national TV audience. The C’s recorded their second win under the bright lights of Sportsnet in as many tries as they blanked the Spokane Indians 4-0 at Nat Bailey Stadium Saturday. More importantly, the victory put an end to a seven-game losing streak for the C’s.
The only run Vancouver would need came in the fourth inning when Brett Wright hit a two-out double to left field off Teodoro Ortega that scored a one-out base hit from Trevor Schwecke. Wright had lost the handle on his bat during an earlier pitch in his plate appearance but he found some new lumber and hit a fly ball to the left field corner that Ryan Anderson could not squeeze into his glove. Ortega looked to have Wright picked off at second base but Wright kept running to third and was credited with a stolen base as the throw from second base was off the mark. Ronny Brito would go down swinging to leave Wright 90 feet away.
The C’s would get their other three runs in the seventh against Sam Hellinger. Brito started the rally with a one-out single to deep left field down that was cut off by Anderson. Adrian Ramos followed with a walk before Tanner Morris snuck a two-out double down the left field line on an 0-2 pitch that scored Brito. Yorman Rodriguez then cashed in Ramos and Morris by lining a double to right. Rodriguez was caught stealing after sliding past the third base bag where Cristian Inoa made the tag to stop the rally.
Those runs were plenty for the ‘Pon’ pitching tandem of Gabriel Ponce and Randy Pondler. Ponce gave up a leadoff single to Kellen Strahm but he would only face three batters as he got Tanner Gardner to foul out to Brito in foul territory just in front of the C’s third base dugout before getting Blaine Crim to ground into a 4-6-3 double play started by Morris and turned by Schwecke over to Rodriguez.
Ponce would allow just one baserunner over the rest of his 3-2/3 innings as he hit Kenen Irizarry with a 3-2 pitch right in the back in the second inning with two outs. Irizarry was nearly picked off by Ponce but Rodriguez could not hold on to the ball at first and an error was charged to the C’s first baseman. Undeterred, Ponce would sit down the next six men he faced before giving the ball to fellow south paw Randy Pondler. He finished the frame with just one pitch as he got Luis Ascunsion to ground out to third.
Pondler went the final 5-1/3 innings and worked around three hits and four walks while matching Ponce’s strikeout total of two to get the victory.
Radar Gun Rundown
Ponce’s two strikeouts came in at 76 and 77 miles per hour. He was also clocked at 78 and 83 and up to 89-92 on the high end. Pondler was at 77-79, 81, 84, 85 and 87-89.
The first Vancouver hit belonged to Rodriguez as his two-out line drive nearly took the head off of Teodoro on the mound.
Spokane responded to Irizzary being hit by a Ponce pitch in the top of the second with Ortega plunking McGregory Contreras in the bottom half of the inning. Contreras appeared to have stolen second but a late call by home plate umpire Willie Traynor in ringing up Brito closed the inning, leading to plenty of confusion of what was going on all around the ballpark.
Sportsnet analyst Ricky Romero praised Ponce for his quick tempo during the game which finished up in a tidy two hours and 22 minutes in front of a sellout crowd of 6,413. Ponce also took a nice, animated leap over the third base line upon exiting the game.
Pondler picked off two Spokane runners in the fifth. The first wiped out a seeing-eye single between third and short from Anderson. The second took care of an Inoa walk.
Dominic Abbadessa had to leave the game in the fifth inning after being shaken up in a collision with Spokane catcher Scott Kapers. Abbadessa hit a ground ball to third off Joe Corbett and reached first on a throwing error by Inoa at third. However, Abbadessa went too far rounding the bag as he had thoughts of taking an extra base. Kapers followed up the play at first base and made a diving tag to get Abbadessa on a 5-3-2 putout. Abbadessa was replaced on the basepaths and in center field by Ramos.
Will Robertson took one for the team from Hellinger to lead off the sixth as he got hit in the elbow. The Creighton Bluejays product was able to make a key defensive play in right field in the seventh when he got to the ball quickly enough on an Irizzary double to prevent Spokane manager Kenny Hook from sending an Anderson walk all the way home. Pondler then retired Inoa on a fly ball to keep Spokane off the board.
Pondler got more defensive help from his outfield in the ninth. Asuncion drew a two-out walk and Anderson singled to left. Anderson tried to get to second on the play but Contreras threw the ball over to Morris and he tagged Anderson to end the game.
Vancouver has a chance for its first series win of 2019 in five tries as they host Spokane in the rubber match of this three-game set. Juan Diaz is set to throw the first pitch at 1:05 pm Sunday afternoon. Josh Javier gets the ball for Spokane.
The C’s have announced their pitching rotation for their upcoming series against Hillsboro that will round out the six-game homestand. Nick Fraze will get the ball in the series opener Monday, Adam Kloffenstein takes his turn in the rotation Tuesday and Grant Townsend gets the ball in the series finale Wednesday. Monday’s and Tuesday’s games go at 7:05 pm while Wednesday’s game is a 1:05 pm first pitch.