The Vancouver Canadians put an end to a three-game losing streak and kept their slim playoff hopes alive for another day. The C’s cooled off the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes 7-1 at Nat Bailey Stadium Sunday afternoon. Vancouver is four games back of Tri-City and two back of Everett in the chase for the last playoff spot in the North Division with seven games remaining.
For the second straight game, there were no runs scored after three innings of play and it was Salem-Keizer who opened the scoring again in the top of the fourth. Armani Smith welcomed Luis Quinones into the game with a base hit up the middle and he would move up 180 feet on a Ryan Sloniger passed ball that glanced off his glove and a wild pitch. Quinones surrounded a walk to Jeff Houghtby with strikeouts of Brandon Martorano and Harrison Freed but surrendered a two-out single to center by Beicker Mendoza that scored Smith. Tyler Wyatt would go down swinging against Quinones who struck out the side.
The bottom of the fourth saw Vancouver respond in a big way. Jesus Lopez and Will Robertson singled off Conner Nurse before a one-out base knock by McGregory Contreras lined a ball up the gut to bring home Lopez. Luis De Los Santos hit a rope to left-center field to cash in Robertson and Contreras to give the C’s the lead. Tanner Morris drove in De Los Santos with a two-out single to left to make it 4-1 for the home side. Morris scored when Spencer Horwitz stepped up and lined a ball that stayed fair over the left field fence and into the Canadians bullpen for his first Northwest League hit.
The last run was scored by Monty’s Mounties in the eighth. De Los Santos singled to center off Cooper Casad before coming in to count on a Morris RBI double to right. The throw from Freed was on the money to Matarano at the plate but De Los Santos was able to knock the ball loose on a feet-first slide to score.
Nick Fraze pitched three shutout innings to start this one for Vancouver. Luke Gillingham finished up with two more zeros on the linescore to give the C’s a chance to split the four-game series against Salem-Keizer.
Radar Gun Rundown
Fraze measured in at 79-83 and 89-94 miles per hour with strikeouts at 80, 79, 87 and 82. Quinones clocked in at 79, 80, 83-85 and 90-94 with punchouts of of 85, 84, 84, 57*, 93, 80, 80, 92, 93, 93 and 82. Gillingham got readings of 70, 71, 74, 75, 77, 78, 83 and 85-89 with a strikeout at 88.
Fraze allowed just three scratch singles that found holes as he did a fine job managing hard contact against him. Two-out singles in the second by Freed and Mendoza were stranded by Fraze as he retired the last four men he faced.
Quinones gave up the lone Salem-Keizer run on three hits and a walk but the Baby Shark aficionado whiffed nine over four innings. The former San Jacinto hurler would occasionally alter his timing to the mound with a hesitation move before coming to the plate.
Gillingham added two more Ks to give Vancouver 15 on the day and was able to survive three hits over two scoreless frames. Salem-Keizer manager Tom Trebelhorn elected not to send a Freed single home on a one-out double by Mendoza in the ninth inning as Robertson had trouble fielding the ball before getting it back into the infield. Freed and Mendoza would stay put as Wyatt flied out before Alexander Canario struck out for the fifth time to give him a platinum sombrero.
Just as importantly, Gillingham was serenaded with the theme for the TV show Magnum, P.I. after finishing his first inning of work as a nod to his service with the United States Naval Academy.
Horwitz made hard contact in his first inning at-bat as he lined one up the box that nearly hit Nurse in the head. Philip Clarke collected the first base knock for Vancouver as he beat out a roller to short on a bang-bang play at first.
Contreras had a two-out single in the second and took off for second on a hit and run with De Los Santos who put the ball in play towards the right side of the infield. Carter Aldrete was running to cover the second base bag and had to backtrack to get to the ball that was hit to his left. Contreras was able to get to third on the play with some good aggressive baserunning. Dom Abbadessa tried to sneak one up the middle to score Contreras but Houghtby made the play from short to end the threat.
Morris and De Los Santos supplied half of Vancouver’s 12 hits with three apiece. Contreras was on base three times with two hits and a hit by pitch when a Nurse offering hit him in the derriere.
Northwest League All-Star hurler Adam Kloffenstein celebrated his 19th birthday Sunday. His next start is expected to come Wednesday when the Tri-City Dust Devils are in town. Should the C’s manage to squeak into the post-season, Kloffenstein would be in line for the Game 1 start.
Alek Manoah is the scheduled starter for Vancouver in the finale of this four-game set with Salem-Keizer at Nat Bailey Stadium. The first pitch is expected to make its way toward home plate at 7:05 pm. Rob Fai will call the action on Sportsnet 650 and CanadiansBaseball.com.