The Vancouver Canadians gained a split of their six-game series against the Spokane Indians by holding on for a 4-3 victory at Ron Tonkin Field Sunday afternoon.
The game did not begin the way Adam Kloffenstein wanted it to. The C’s righty handed out a leadoff walk to Jack Blomgren on a 3-2 pitch. Blomgren made it to third on a one-out base hit by Hunter Stovall before Niko Decolati lifted a sacrifice fly to right to score Blomgren for a 1-0 Spokane advantage.
The Canadians were able to solve Spokane southpaw Breiling Eusebio in the third with a two-out rally. Luis De Los Santos lined a single to left and he would score on a Sebastian Espino home run to right-center field to put Vancouver ahead 2-1.
Vancouver struck again for another two runs in the fifth off Eusebio when Tanner Morris drew a one-out walk and he would jog the rest of the way home when Luis De Los Santos jumped on the first pitch he saw for a two-run homer to right field to increase the C’s lead to 4-1.
A leadoff walk in the sixth came back to haunt Kloffenstein in the top of the sixth when Aaron Schunk saw four straight pitches miss the plate. Schunk got to second when Decolati softly tapped back to the mound with one away before coming home on a Kyle Datres two-out double.
Spokane closed the gap in the eighth against C’s reliever Cobi Johnson. Blomgren singled to begin the frame, stole second base and came home on a two-out single by Decolati for the final run of the game.
Base umpire Kevin Mandzuk had to move behind the dish when home plate umpire Nathan Diedrich was hit in the knee by a pitch from Eusebio in the second inning. The game was delayed for about 20 minutes.
Colin Price made it to the ballpark in the top of the fifth to look after the bases.
The Canadians had a chance for a big first inning when they loaded the bases with one out. Rafael Lantigua had a leadoff single to left before Morris walked and Espino reached first on an error by Schunk at second. Ryan Gold was called out on an infield fly rule to third and John Aiello flied out to left to leave the sacks full.
Vancouver was unable to capitalize on a leadoff walk to Spencer Horwitz in the second and an Aiello leadoff double and stolen base at third. Horwitz grounded out to second with the infield in that kept Aiello put. D.J. Neal and Eric Rivera could not bring Aiello home either as they flied out to center.
The C’s could have added on after De Los Santos’ dinger in the fifth when Espino doubled. However, Gold struck out and Espino was caught stealing third for an inning-ending double play.
The C’s went down in order from the sixth to the eighth with Eusebio, Jared Biddy and Dugan Darnell contributing a goose egg apiece.
Aiello was replaced by Ronny Brito at third base in the top of the fifth after his double and steal of third in the bottom of the fourth.
Things did not come easy for Kloffenstein but he really grinned his way to a quality start after getting into trouble in every inning. In the first, he balked Stovall to second after Decolati’s sac fly. Stovall would also swipe third but Kloffenstein got Datres on an inning-ending groundout to third.
Kloffenstein handed out his second leadoff walk in the second to Javier Guevara but after a visit from pitching coach Phil Cundari, the Magnolia, Texas native was able to retire the side in order.
Yet another leadoff man reached base against Kloffenstein in the third when Blomgren was hit by a pitch. Gold would take care of Blomgren by throwing him out in a steal attempt at second. Kloffenstein wound up facing the minimum by striking out Stovall looking to end the inning.
Spokane went 4-for-4 with leadoff men reaching base when Decolati dropped down a bunt single to third. Kloffenstein would face just three batters again when Datres flied out and Guevara had into a 4-3 double play.
Did Spokane go 5-for-5 with the first batter of the inning getting on board? No sir! Cade Harris struck out on a foul trip. Kloffenstein was denied a chance for his first clean inning as Luke Morgan doubled with two out but Blomgren grounded to third to end the frame.
The sixth and final inning for Kloffenstein saw him strand Datres at second after his RBI double by getting Guecara looking at strike three.
Kloffenstein batted his way to a quality start by allowing just two runs on four hits, three walks and a hit by pitch over six innings. He struck out four and registered six outs on the fake turf of the Tonk to even his record at 4-4. Of his 78 pitches, 44 were strikes. Kloffenstein may not have had his best stuff but I’m sure the Jays brass will be pleased he was still able to come up with the big outs when he needed them.
Cobi Johnson had a perfect seventh before giving up a run on two hits in the eighth. However, he would strike out the side.
Parker Caracci struck out a batter in a perfect ninth to notch his sixth save and reduced his earned run average to 1.50.
Spokane was without the services of slugging first baseman Michael Toglia as the Colorado Rockies prospect took part in the Futures Games in Denver.
The Toronto Blue Jays selected Ole Miss righthander Gunnar Hoglund with the 19th overall pick of the Major League Baseball draft held in Colorado Sunday. Hoglund was a teammate of C’s reliever Parker Caracci with the Rebels in 2019 during Hoglund’s freshman season. Assuming he signs with Toronto, it will be a while before Hoglund will be on the mound as he underwent Tommy John surgery in May. The latter half of 2022 or early 2023 may be the next time he throws a competitive pitch.
The Canadians are back to .500 as they end their first half of the season at 30 wins and 30 losses. They are within 4-1/2 games back of Eugene for a playoff spot as the Emeralds dropped their fifth in a row to Everett. The AquaSox are now 5-1/2 games clear of Eugene and 10 ahead of the Canadians in the High-A West.
Everett catcher Carter Bins was promoted to Double-A Arkansas after 2018 AquaSox backstop Cal Raleigh was promoted to Seattle from Triple-A Tacoma so the Frogs will have one less toy to play with for their league-leading offence.
The Canadians remain at their new home in Hillsboro but they will be the visiting team against the Hops in a six-game series starting Tuesday. Luis Quinones will be on the hill for Vancouver in a 7:05 pm start on CanadiansBaseball.com.
C’s Alumni Report
Cavan Biggio (2016) had a sacrifice fly and Tim Mayza (2014) pitched a perfect eighth for his 10th hold of the season as Toronto defeated Tampa Bay 3-1 Sunday.
Tim Locastro (2014) homered and walked but the New York Yankees were walked off by Houston 8-7.
Rowdy Tellez (2014) had a walk but Milwaukee lost to Cincinnati 3-1.