The Vancouver Canadians dropped their final series opener of 2021 with a 7-4 loss to the Hillsboro Hops at Ron Tonkin Field Tuesday.
The Hops broke the game open with four runs in the fourth off Adam Kloffenstein. A two-run home run by Ronny Simon scored a Jorge Barrosa hit by pitch to begin the inning. Blaze Alexander then tripled and scored on a Tristin English base hit. English was balked to second, went to third on a two-out grounder by A.J. Vukovich and scored on a Nick Dalesandro single.
The C’s got to Hops starter Collin Sullivan in the fifth. A leadoff double to right by Addison Barger was driven home by a Trevor Schwecke single to center. Harrison Ray singled to right to put Schwecke in scoring position. Eric Rivera‘s pop foul to first allowed Schwecke to tag up and go to third before Zac Cook‘s sacrifice fly to right field scored Schwecke with Vancouver’s second run.
Hillsboro responded with a two-run rally in the sixth. Vukovich got to first after striking out and reaching on a Kloffenstein wild pitch. Axel Andueza singled Vukovich over to third and a two-out throwing error by Barger at short on a groundball by Leodany Perez allowed Vukovich and Andueza to score.
Vancouver answered back with another two runs in the bottom of the frame against Austin Pope. The rally began with a leadoff single to left by Will Robertson and he was joined on the base paths one out later by P.K. Morris who was hit by a pitch. Barger then lined a single to right to bring home Robertson and send Morris to third. Morris then scored on a Schwecke ground ball to third to make it a 6-4 game.
Hillsboro got the final run of the game in the ninth off Thomas Ruwe. A one-out walk by Elian Miranda was pushed to third on a Jorge Barrosa ground-rule double and scored on a two-out wild pitch.
The first baserunner for Vancouver was Robertson who reached on a two-out fielding error by Blaze Alexander at short but was left stranded. Schwecke was the first C’s batter to reach safely on a two-out walk in the second. Barger’s double in the fifth was the first hit of the night for the Canadians.
Vancouver was retired in order in third and fourth innings by Sullivan, in the seventh by Pope and the eighth and ninth by Liu Fuenmayor. The last 14 Vancouver hitters were sent back to the dugout by the three Hops pitchers.
Barger had the lone two-hit game for Vancouver in his C’s debut. Schwecke also got on base twice with a single and a walk. Ray had a hit in his first appearance with the Canadians and P.K. Morris took one for the team in their respective debuts.
Tanner Morris was 0-for-4 to see his on-base streak end at 36 games.
Kloffenstein gave up six runs (four earned) on six hits and a hit by pitch. He struck out three, walked nobody and racked up 14 outs on the ground.
Justin Maese worked around a hit and a walk and struck out two over two shutout innings.
Ruwe allowed a run on a hit and a free pass in the ninth.
The Canadians had another roster shuffle for the final series of 2021. First baseman Spencer Horwitz, utilityman Rafael Lantigua, righthander Andrew Bash and catcher Anthony Morales were promoted to Double-A New Hampshire.
Horwitz goes to Manchester after putting together a 28-game hitting streak. He batted .290 with a .401 on-base percentage and a .445 slugging percentage. He racked up 28 doubles, one triple and 10 home runs with 62 runs batted in. He also walked a High-A West leading 70 times, four more than his strikeout total.
Lantigua slashed .280/.375/.470 with 22 doubles, one triple, 11 homers and 43 runs batted in and stole 26 bases in 32 attempts.
Bash went 3-0 with a 5.16 earned run average over two starts and seven relief appearances with Vancouver after coming up from Low-A Dunedin. He struck out 20 hitters and walked nine over 22-2/3 innings.
Morales saw action in just four games with Vancouver, going 2-for-15 with a walk after stints at Triple-A Buffalo and Dunedin.
Infielders Barger and Morris and utilityman Ray were promoted to the C’s from Low-A Dunedin.
Barger was Toronto’s sixth round pick in 2018 from King High School in Tampa, Florida. The 21 year-old left-handed hitter slashed .249/.334/.492 with 18 home runs, 21 doubles, two triples and 80 runs batted in for Dunedin this season. The 6-foot-0 infielder also stole seven bases without getting caught. He is wearing Horwitz’s number 23.
Like Barger, Morris was selected out of high school in Florida when he went in the 14th round of the 2017 draft out of Steinbrenner High School in Lutz. The 6-foot-1, left-handed batter put together a .251/.407/.412 line with the D-Jays with 21 doubles, two triples, nine homers and 51 RBI. The 23 year-old is a native of Tampa, Florida. Morris will don Bash’s digits of 25.
Ray joins 2019 Vanderbilt teammate Philip Clarke on the Canadians roster. The 23 year-old from Rockville, Maryland hit .202/.322/.347 with Dunedin with 11 doubles, a triple, nine dingers and 33 runs driven in. He also stole 26 bases in 33 attempts. The 6-foot-0 right-handed hitter signed with Toronto as a free agent June 25, 2020. Ray takes over the number 4 left behind by Lantigua.
Vancouver is now 54-61, ensuring the C’s will finish with a losing record in 2021. They won just six times against 14 losses on Tuesdays.
Burlington, Ontario’s Alex Nolan gets the start for Vancouver as he fills in for the promoted Bash. Nolan will fire the first pitch at 7:05 pm on CanadiansBaseball.com. Justin Vernia takes the ball for Hillsboro.