The Vancouver Canadians are over the .500 mark for the first time in three years thanks to a 3-2 victory over the Spokane Indians at Ron Tonkin Field Thursday.
Spokane scored the game’s first run in the fourth inning when Brenton Doyle took Canadians right-hander C.J. Van Eyk deep to center field on the first pitch of the frame.
The Canadians responded in the sixth against Spokane reliever Derrik Watson when Spencer Horwitz singled with one out and Ryan Gold walked on four straight pitches. Luis De Los Santos got ahead of the count 2-0 before hitting a three-run home run to center to give Vancouver a 3-1 lead.
That lead shrunk to one run in the eighth when Spokane scored an unearned run off Justin Maese. A Ronny Brito fielding error at short allowed Cade Harris to reach base. A.J. Lewis bunted Harris over to second and an Eddy Diaz grounder to first allowed Harris to get to third before Maese uncorked a wild pitch to make it a one-run game.
Maese came back out on the mound for Vancouver in the ninth and overcame a one-out Michael Toglia walk and two-out passed ball by Philip Clarke to get his first professional save.
The winning pitcher was lefty Brandon Eisert who got the win in his Vancouver debut. The hometown kid from Beaverton, Oregon pitched 2-1/3 shutout innings of perfect relief. The former Oregon State Beaver struck out the side in the seventh by leaning on an effective breaking ball. His first pitch of the night registered at 73 miles per hour.
Van Eyk had a much better second outing with the C’s. After failing to get out of the first inning in his first start of the year, the Jays 2nd round pick of 2020 retired the side in the first after Clarke threw out Diaz trying to steal second after a leadoff single. Van Eyk steered his way out of trouble in the second by stranding a walk and stolen before recording his first 1-2-3 inning in the third. He ended his first three frames with a strikeout. Despite the leadoff homer to Doyle in the fourth, Van Eyk needed just eight pitches to avoid further trouble. He retired the first two hitters in the fifth but a two-out walk to Lewis spelled the end of his night. The former Florida State Seminole struck out seven in 4-2/3 innings.
Before homering in the fourth inning, Doyle made a diving catch in the third inning to rob Clarke of an extra-base hit. However, Clarke kept his on-base streak going to seven games with a base hit in four trips to the plate. He’s hitting just .167 but has an on-base percentage of .394.
Rafael Lantigua had just one professional start in the outfield coming into 2021 but injuries to outfielders D.J. Neal and Will Robertson forced Canadians manager Donnie Murphy to deploy the long-time infielder on the big grass instead. In his first start in center, Lantigua took away a hit from Kyle Datres with a diving catch in left-centre to end the fourth inning.
Horwitz had a perfect night at the plate with two hits and two walks. His only blemish was a caught stealing when he was thrown out trying to swipe second in the eighth inning by Willie MacIver.
Ryan Gold had a two-walk night while De Los Santos, L.J. Talley and Davis Schneider also earned free passes. Talley also had a base hit. As pointed out by Canadians broadcaster Tyler Zickel during Thursday night’s broadcast, L.J. stands for Little Jason.
Tanner Kirwer was kept in check by the Spokane hurlers as he went 0-for-4 to end his seven-game on-base streak.
Vancouver had at least one base runner in six of their eight at-bats, going down in order in just the third and seventh innings. Their best opportunities included Schneider’s leadoff walk against Spokane starter Ryan Feltner in the fifth that moved into scoring position on a wild pitch but he would remain 180 feet away from home plate. A bases-loaded opportunity with two outs arose in the eighth but P.J. Poulin struck out Schneider to end the frame in relief of Riley Pint, the 4th overall pick in the 2016 draft by Colorado.
Troy Watson gets his second start of the season for Vancouver for the fourth game of their six-game set against Spokane. Game time is 7:05 pm on CanadiansBaseball.com.
The team website also has an Opening Homestand game program featuring an interview with Donnie Murphy, team rosters and schedule which you can check out right here.
C’s Alumni Report
The Buffalo Bisons got a quality start from 2016 C’s right-hander T.J. Zeuch. He allowed just a single unearned run on three hits and two walks, racking up three strikeouts and 10 groundouts as Buffalo downed Rochester 3-1. The winning pitcher was Tayler Saucedo (2015) who struck out three of the six men he faced over two perfect frames.
2018 C’s Otto Lopez had two hits and an RBI and VInny Capra went 2-for-3 with a run scored in New Hampshire’s 6-1 loss to Somerset.
2019 C’s catcher Ryan Sloniger had a hit in three trips but Dunedin fell to Bradenton 4-1. 2019 hurlers William Gaston gave up a run in two innings but struck out four while Gabriel Ponce struck out three over two shutout frames.
Cavan Biggio (2016) doubled twice and walked twice and Travis Bergen (2015-2017) got the win in relief as Toronto came from behind to beat Atlanta 8-4.