The Vancouver Canadians are below the .500 mark again after a 7-4 loss to the Hillsboro Hops at Ron Tonkin Field Thursday.
It was a scoreless game until the bottom of the third when the Hops—or their Fun Cup alter ego Los Soñadores de Hillsboro—got to Vancouver reliever Brian Rapp for a pair of runs. Roman Ruiz reached base on a fielding error by Ronny Brito at third when he dropped the ball trying to field a bounce off the turf. Brito handled his next chance at third as he charged in to handle to bunt by Jorge Barrosa that advanced Ruiz to second. Ruiz would come give on a wild pitch in which there appeared to be some miscommunication between Rapp and catcher Philip Clarke. Calling for a pitch down, Rapp’s pitch sailed high off Clarke’s glove and hit the backstop, taking a crazy carom that left Clarke scrambling for the ball well up the first base side in foul territory near the coaching box. Clarke threw the ball home with Rapp covering the plate but Rapp could not hold on to the ball as Ruiz slid home feet first for the game’s first run. Dominic Canzone then walked, stole second base, tagged up to go to third on a Tristin English fly ball and scored on an Andy Yerzy base hit for Hillsboro’s second run. Yerzy snuck one by shortstop Tanner Morris on the right field of the infield. Rapp did pick off Yerzy at first on a 1-3-4 play to finish the frame. The rule that pitchers had to step off the rubber before making a pickoff throw has been scrapped for the rest of the season in the High-A West League.
The Hops added on to their lead against Rapp in the fourth. Spencer Brickhouse got aboard on a one-out throwing error by Rapp as he fielded a tapper back to the mound but lobbed it over to take Spencer Horwitz off the first base bag. Horwitz reached back to tag Brickhouse but it was not in time. That proved to be costly as Axel Andueza hit a two-run home run over the fence in left-center field on the first pitch he saw from Rapp to make it 4-0 Hops.
Vancouver got a two-run home run of their own in the top of the fifth. Philip Clarke led off with a single to center field off Slade Cecconi before Brito left the yard with a blast to left field to cut Hillsboro’s lead in half.
Hillsboro responded with another rally in the bottom half of inning number five against C’s reliever Willy Gaston. The Hops got two runners in scoring position with one out when Canzone came up with a hustle double with a headfirst slide. Canzone stole third before English walked on a 3-2 pitch and snagged second. A Yerzy sacrifice fly to the warning track in right-center and an Eduardo Diaz single plated both Canzone and English respectively.
The C’s drew closer in the seventh off Cecconi with almost the same recipe in the fourth. Clarke dropped down a bunt single to third to beat the shift and Brito brought him home with his second dinger of the night to left-center.
Hillsboro would cap off the scoring in the seventh against Connor Law. A double by Barrosa that eluded a diving Brito down the third base line with nobody out was moved to third on a wild pitch and came home one out later on an English fielder’s choice to first. With the infield in, Horwitz handled the high chopper but Barrosa was able to avoid the tag by getting his left hand on the plate to slide underneath Clarke’s tag.
The one good piece of news from Thursday was the return of Canadians righty Nick Fraze. He had not pitched since June 4 but shook off the rust early by striking out the first two men he faced swinging on high fastballs. Fraze was one pitch away from an immaculate inning but English spoiled it with an inning-ending groundout to short.
The second inning saw Fraze record another whiff on a high heater to sit down Yerzy but he hit Brickhouse in the right leg with two outs and allowed an Andueza base hit before getting Leodany Perez to hit into a 6-4 fielder’s choice to end the frame. Fraze threw 25 pitches, 20 for strikes, in his two-inning outing.
With Fraze returning from the injured list, fellow righty Sam Ryan is now on the shelf. He has not pitched since June 19. The former Virginia Commonwealth chucker has struck out 20 batters in 20-2/3 innings this year.
Rapp coughed up four runs in two innings but only one run was earned. There were two hits and a walk on his ledger along with one strikeout.
Gaston gave up two runs on two hits and a walk in the fifth but had a much better sixth as he needed just six pitches to retire the side, half of them coming on a strikeout of Andueza.
Law was charged with a run on a hit in the seventh before Roither Hernandez retired the side in order in the eighth, getting the first two hitters to strike out looking. Hernandez has yet to give up a run over five appearances covering 6-1/3 innings.
Brito had the C’s first hit of the night with a single to center to start the third but he was forced out on the front end of a 1-6 fielder’s choice by D.J. Neal. Eric Rivera was robbed of a hit by English at third who snared a high chopper beyond the third base bag and got plenty of English on the throw to first to just get Rivera by the slimmest of margins. Neal got to second on the play but he was left there when Lantigua—after lining out to third to begin the game—popped one up behind home plate as Yerzy made the catch just in front of the netting.
Morris was robbed of a hit to begin the fourth. Perez slid to his right at second base to come up with the ball but made a high throw to first to Brickhouse who was able to come down on top of the bag to retire Morris. Sebastian Espino singled to left on a 3-2 pitch with two away but was left stranded.
In his next at-bat, Morris did have a leadoff hit in the sixth but he was left there. He also reached second base on a Ruiz throwing error at short that wide of the mark at first. Morris tried to get to third when Hillsboro reliever Nick Snyder bounced a pitch in front of the plate but Yerzy pounced on the ball and threw Morris out. Espino blooped a single to right with two out but he was thrown out trying to steal second on a delayed steal to end the inning.
Vancouver did get the tying run to the plate in the ninth against Hops reliever Yaramil Hiraldo. A one-out ground-rule double by Clarke that was just beyond the outstretched glove of Barrosa in center was moved over the third on a sharply-hit two-out single by Neal but Rivera flied out to center to end the game.
Rivera made a beautiful running catch on the warning track in left-center field to rob Barrosa of a double for the first out of the fifth before tumbling to the ground and cutting his right hand. He would remain in the game.
The Canadians find themselves below .500 at 31 wins and 32 losses. They are still 5-1/2 games back of Eugene for second place but are now 10 full games behind Everett for top spot in the High-A West.
Vancouver will look to C.J. Van Eyk to turn the tide against the Hops Friday. The game—which is on CanadiansBaseball.com and MiLB.TV—begins at 7:05 p.m.
C’s Alumni Report
The Buffalo Bisons walked off Lehigh Valley 5-4 Thursday.
- Riley Adams – 0/2, BB, HBP, R
- Richard Ureña – 1/3, BB, 2B, 2RBI
- Logan Warmoth – 0/2, 2BB, SB, 2R
Hartford handed New Hampshire a 5-2 loss.
- L.J. Talley – 0/2, 2BB, R
- Vinny Capra – 1/3, BB
- Kevin Vicuña 1/4, R
- Chris Bec – 2/3, BB
- Reggie Pruitt – 1/4, 2B, 2RBI
- Mike Ellenbest – 1.0IP 0H 0R/ER 0BB 2K