The Vancouver Canadians will not be going to the Northwest League playoffs in 2019. The C’s were eliminated from post-season contention after a 13-12 loss in 11 innings to the Tri-City Dust Devils at Nat Bailey Stadium Thursday.
Dust Devils leadoff man Jordy Barley tripled to center on Alex Nolan‘s first pitch of the game. He was joined on the basepaths when Reinaldo Ilarraza drew a walk and was able to steal second. Barley would score the game’s first run on a Logan Driscoll sacrifice fly to left. McGregory Contreras cut in front of C’s center fielder Dom Abbadessa to unleash a strong throw to third that was in time to get Ilarraza at third but Trevor Schwecke could not hold on to the ball. Jack Stronach singled home Illarraza and stolen base and Jonny Homza would double home a Nick Gatewood walk to provide an early three-run cushion for the Dust Devils.
The Canadians chipped away with a run in the first when they opened the inning with three straight hits by Tanner Morris, Spencer Horwitz and Philip Clarke off Dust Devils starter Nick Thwaits. Contreras scored Morris with a sacrifice fly to center but Clarke was thrown out at second trying to advance on the fly ball for an 8-5-4 double play.
Will Robertson got Vancouver within a run by belting his fourth home run of the season over the right field fence to begin the second.
The trio of Morris, Horwitz and Clarke began the bottom of the third by reaching base on a walk, single and walk before Contreras cashed in Morris with a single to left field. Starlin Cordero relieved Thwaits and surrendered RBI singles to Ryan Sloniger and Robertson before handing out RBI walks to Luis De Los Santos and Schwecke. Martin Carrasco was called in from the Tri-City pen and gave up a one-out RBI single to Morris to make it 8-3 Vancouver but Carrasco stopped the bleeding with an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play from Horwitz.
Nolan had overcome a bumpy first inning by retiring eight hitters in a row but the long five-run rally appeared to hurt the former Brock Badger in the fourth. Jonny Homza led off with a triple and scored on a double by Tre Carter to cut Vancouver’s lead to four.
The Canadians got a run in the fifth when De Los Santos forced out a Robertson leadoff single. Abbadessa got on base with an infield single to short and De Los Santos moved up to third on Ilarraza’s throwing error. A delayed double steal resulted in Abbadessa drawing the throw at second before De Los Santos scampered across the plate to make it a 9-4 ballgame. After Carrasco walked Morris, Seth Mayberry was needed to get the final out of the frame.
The scoring resumed in the seventh as Tri-City stormed back to take the lead with a six-run inning. The unravelling began when Josh Almonte—after a perfect sixth—gave up an Acosta single and walked Ilarraza after Acosta swiped second. Almonte knocked down a hard smash off the bat of Driscoll to throw him out at first but Acosta and Ilarraza were able to advance. A wild pitch plated Acosta and a walk to Gatewood spelled the end of the line for Acosta.
Mike Pascoe was summoned from the C’s bullpen and he yielded a Stronaach double to score Ilarraza and Gatewood. Walks to Homza and Carter with a Homza swipe in between led to a bases loaded situation for Luke Becker and he doubled to center to clear the bases and give the Dust Devils a 10-9 lead. Left-hander Grayson Huffman had to come in to get the final out of the frame for Vancouver.
The C’s fought back in the bottom of the seventh when Abbadessa won the battle of the Doms by singling off Dom DiSabatino before Morris drew a walk. Horwitz flied out to right but Abbadessa tagged up to go to third. Dan Dallas entered the game for Tri-City and he was welcomed into the slugfest by a Clarke single to right score Abbadessa. Another single by Contreras to left brought in Morris with the go-ahead run to make it 11-10 C’s.
It remained that way until the top of the ninth when Huffman walked Stronach to start the inning. Homza lifted a shallow fly ball towards the right field foul line that De Los Santos made a terrific sliding catch on from as he ran in from second base. The Dust Devils took back the momentum with singles by Carter and Becker to load the bases before an Acosta sacrifice fly to center scored Stronach with the tying run. Barley walked to load the bases and Huffman was replaced by Parker Caracci. The Ole Miss product needed one pitch to get Ilarraza to line out to short to force extra innings.
Vancouver could not walk it off in the ninth. Only Clarke managed a one-out walk against Dust Devils reliever Chris Lincoln.
Tri-City regained the lead in the 10th when Driscoll doubled home Ilarraza as he began the inning at second base to put the Dust Devils up 12-11. Caracci kept Driscoll stranded at second by striking out the side.
Vancouver matched that run in the 10th when pinch-runner Adrian Ramos—subbing in for Sloniger—scored from second on a Robertson single to right to even the game up at 12-12. De Los Santos hit into a 5-4-3 double play to effectively snuff out the rally.
The Dust Devils bunted Homza over to third to begin the 11th with Carter doing the honours. A Becker ground out to second got Homza home to put Tri-City ahead once again.
The Canadians excecuted the same tactic in their 11th inning at-bat when Abbadessa got Schwecke over to third with a bunt that was fielded by Tri-City reliever Sam Keating. After getting on base five times previously with two hits and three walks, Morris would strike out swinging and Horwitz grounded out to first on a 3-1 putout to end the Canadians playoff hopes.
Radar Gun Rundown
Nolan clocked in at 78-82, 84, 89 and 90 miles per hour with strikeouts at 91, 81, 82 and 79. Almonte was at 82-84 , 87 and 93-96 with strikeouts at 94, 83 and 82. Pascoe put up readings of 84-87 and 93. Huffman was registered at 74, 77, 79, 80, 82, 88, 90-95 with Ks of 94 and 82. Caracci checked in 78-81, 87, 91 and 92 with whiffs at 80, 93, 91 and 91.
A shout-out to Nolan for using Kanye West’s “Homecoming” for his mound music before the game. The Burlington, Ontario native could not buy any offensive support for a majority of the season until last night. According to C’s Media Relations Assistant Jordy Cunningham, the club had only mustered 15 runs when Nolan was on the hill prior to Thursday night’s blitzkrieg.
Schwecke made a nice running catch in foul territory as he spun off the third base wall in foul territory to retire Ilarraza in the fifth and got Ilarraza again in the eighth by throwing out the Dust Devils speedster on a bunt attempt on the third base side.
The Dust Devils wore their blue alternate tops for the first time in Vancouver and that broke their 0-7 jinx at the Nat prior to the game. Dust Devils broadcaster Chris King joked the team may have had to sacrifice a live chicken had they lost again. There was a jersey mix-up for Tri-City. Homza normally wears number two but wore number three Thursday.
Congratulations goes out to Adam Kloffenstein as the Magnolia, Texas right-hander earned a spot on the Northwest League All-Star Post-Season squad. One could make a convincing argument that “King Kloff” was robbed of the NWL Pitcher of the Year award as he lost out to Hillsboro’s Deyni Olivero. The Hops hurler posted a record of 7-3 with a 2.12 earned run average with a 42-20 strikeout/walk total, an opponent’s batting average of .214 and a walks-hits-innings pitched ratio of 1.08. Kloffenstein’s stat line was a 4-4 record with 2.24 ERA, a 64-23 K/BB total in 64-1/3 innings, a 1.09 WHIP and a .205 batting average.
The Canadians held a clubhouse ceremony to honour their top players prior to Thursday’s game. Kloffenstein was named team MVP, current Lansing Lugnut Yorman Rodriguez was the top offensive player, Luis Quinones earned top pitcher honours and Philip Clarke won the Fan’s Choice award.
The home finale for 2019 is set for 1:05 pm Friday afternoon. Jared DiCesare will unleash the first pitch for the C’s against the Dust Devils. The game can be heard on Sportsnet 650 and CanadiansBaseball.com with Rob Fai. The team will head to Everett for a three-game series to conclude the season.