The Vancouver Canadians could not hold on to a four-run lead for the second straight game. The Tri-City Dust Devils clinched a playoff berth with a come-from-behind 8-5 victory over the C’s at Nat Bailey Stadium Friday afternoon.
Matthew Acosta opened the scoring for the Dust Devils with a two-out home run off Jared DiCesare with two outs in the second inning. With the wind blowing out towards right, the ball just kept carrying until it went over the fence for a solo shot.
Vancouver came back with a pair of runs in the third. Spencer Horwitz drilled a double to center field off Ignacio Feliz and scored on a Philip Clarke single up the gut. Clarke got to third when Jonny Homza made a throwing error from behind the plate. Will Robertson then pulled a single to right on an 0-2 pitch to bring in Clarke with the second run.
The Canadians padded their lead in the third when Morris walked and Horwitz singled to right with one out with a ball that just eluded the reach of Reinaldo Ilarraza at second base. Clarke flied out to right field but Robertson got the ball over the wall in right for a three-run home run to provide Vancouver with a 5-1 lead. Jake Sims entered the game and struck out Cameron Eden looking after walking Ryan Sloniger.
The Dust Devils began their comeback in the sixth inning. Ilarraza led off with a base hit against Gabriel Ponce and scooted over to second on a wild pitch. Ponce would strike out Logan Driscoll and Jack Stronach but a Homza double plated Ilarraza to make it a 5-2 game.
Tri-City got to Ponce again to start the seventh on an Acosta leadoff double was moved to third on a wild pitch. Luke Becker scored Acosta with a base hit to make it a two-run contest. A Tre Carter single and another wild pitch from Ponce pushed Becker and Carter into scoring position. Ponce would strike out Jordy Barley but walked Ilarraza to load the bases. Driscoll would foul out to first for the second out but Ponce could not close the door as he walked Stronach to score Becker. The C’s would maintain their one-run advantage when Ponce struck out Homza for the third out.
Nicolas Medina was brought in for the eighth inning but ran into trouble with one out. Acosta got on base with a bunt single to first and Becker got aboard with a walk. Carter then singled to score Acosta with the tying run. A Barley single and a throwing error by Adrian Ramos in left resulted in Becker and Carter crossing the plate to give the Dust Devils the lead. Ilarraza would single home Barley to up the Tri-City lead to three.
Gage Burland got away with two singles in the ninth to give Vancouver one more opportunity to come back but Dom DiSabatino limited the C’s to just one hit over three innings. His game-ending strikeout of Sloniger set off the celebration of the Dust Devils clinching a second-half playoff berth.
Radar Gun Rundown
DiCesare tossed pitches at 77, 79-82 and 84-90 miles per hour with strikeouts of 88, 89, 81 and 80. Ponce pitched at 81-83, 89-93 and 95 with punchouts of 90, 91, 92 and 81. Medina registered offerings from 73-76, 78, 84, 85 and 89-91. Burland was at 74, 75, 84 and 91.
The C’s had a chance to take the lead in the first inning when they loaded the bases against Feliz with one out. Morris walked, Horwitz got to first when Becker had a ground ball clank off his glove and Robertson delivered an opposite-field single to left to load the bases with one out. Sloniger would strike out swinging and Eden was caught looking to leave the bags full.
The second inning saw Ramos work the count to ball four with two outs in the second and was able to steal second base but Morris struck out on a foul trip. Ramos also showed off his speed on defence by running down a ball in foul territory in left field just short of the fence to retire Ilarraza to end the third.
C’s shortstop Luis De Los Santos got to show off his strong arm with a play deep in the hole at short as he was well toward the third base side to retire Guilbe to end the sixth inning.
Stronach made a great diving catch in foul territory along left field to send Morris back to the dugout to start the seventh.
Vancouver had just two baserunners over the final four innings. Horwitz was hit by a Sims pitch with one out in the sixth and Morris singled off DiSabatino with two away in the eighth.
All seven Vancouver hits were found in the top four spots in the batting order. Robertson had three hits and Horwitz had two. Morris singled and walked twice and Clarke had the other hit. The bottom five hitters in the order were 0-for-19 with only Ramos’ walk and stolen base to show for their efforts.
Catcher/third baseman Jesus Lopez was called up to Lansing and went 0-for-1 as a pinch-hitter in his Lugnuts debut Thursday. Lopez batted .255 with a home run and 15 runs batted in over 36 games with the C’s. The Kendrys Morales acquisition from Oakland added nine doubles and stole a base in his only attempt.
The 2019 Vancouver Canadians roster continued their annual tradition of the team singing the national anthem for the last regular season home game at Nat Bailey Stadium.
The Canadians travel down Interstate 5 to Everett in a battle of the North Division also-rans. The series opener at Everett Memorial Stadium goes Saturday at 7:05 pm. Juan Diaz is expected to start this one for the C’s. Sunday’s and Monday’s games are set for 4:05 pm. Rob Fai will have the play-by-play of all three games on Sportsnet 650 and CanadiansBaseball.com.