The Vancouver Canadians won a see-saw affair to take the rubber match of their three game series with the Spokane Indians by picking up 8-7 victory at Avista Stadium on a chilly Sunday that saw snow flurries late in the game.
The home side scored first again in the series by racking up three runs in the bottom of the first inning against C’s starter Sem Robberse. A one-out bunt single up the third base line by 2020 Colorado Rockies first round pick Zac Veen and a double by 2020 supplemental first round pick Drew Romo were driven in by a Grant Lavigne base hit. A single by Colin Simpson and a fielding error by Garrett Spain in right allowed Lavigne to motor home from first.
Vancouver fought back in the third inning when Trevor Schwecke and Spain doubled to center field and left field off Spokane starter Andrew Quezada but Schwecke was held up at third base. Zach Britton struck out swinging but Romo failed to squeeze the ball for the out and wound up throwing the ball away down the first base side in an effort to complete the strike out. Schwecke and Spain both crossed the dish to make it a one-run game. It turned out to be a three-base error and Britton would score on a Miguel Hiraldo groundout to first to tie things up at 3-3.
The Canadians took their first lead of the game when Spain pulled one over the fence in right field off Quezada for a one-out solo shot in the fifth inning.
Spokane pulled even in the sixth when a one-out double by Daniel Montano was driven in by a Simpson single off C’s reliever Alex Nolan.
Monty’s Mounties surged ahead again in the top of the seventh when Schwecke poked one over the right field fence for an opposite field solo shot off Anderson Pilar. Spain followed that Schwecke’s one-out homer with a double to center before being balked over to third. Hugo Cardona—who took over for Hiraldo at second base in the previous-half inning—cashed in Spain by lining a two-out triple to left field. Robinson Hernandez took over for Pilar on the mound and wound up balking to send Cardona home with Vancouver’s seventh run.
Spokane could not hold a three-run lead and neither could Vancouver in the home half of the seventh. Nolan walked Yorvis Torrealba and Veen on 3-2 pitches with a Diaz bloop single to right in between to load the bases with nobody out. Colton Laws was called in from the pen and surrendered a sacrifice fly to Romo to score Torrealba. A run-scoring single by Diaz and a sac fly by Montano plated Diaz and Veen to even things up at 7-7.
The Canadians would untie the game when Davis Schneider swatted one over the left field fence off Hernandez to start off the eighth.
Gabriel Ponce struck out two and stranded a Torrealba walk in the eighth and came back out again in the ninth. Veen walked and wound up stealing second and third base while Romo and Lavigne flied out. Montano kept the rally going with a walk and he would steal second base to put the potential winning run in scoring position. Veen was dancing off the third base and took an extremely aggressive lead, hopping around back and forth in an attempt to distract Ponce. Spokane’s third base coach argued that Ponce had balked but base umpire Matt Blackborow disagreed. After running the count full, Ponce struck out Simpson swinging to end the game and pick up the save.
Britton opened the game with a walk and stole second base but was left stranded. However, his at-bat in the seventh was a big key to the Canadians three-run rally in the seventh. He battled Pilar in a 12 pitch at-bat, fouling off five straight pitches before lifting a fly ball that was not deep enough to right field to bring home Spain from third. However, Cardona picked up Britton with a two-out triple to score Spain five pitches later.
Schneider won the game with his eighth inning dinger but he made a tremendous leaping grab off Lavigne in left field before making a beautiful diving catch to rob Montano of a hit to end the third. Combined with his assist to prevent the winning run from scoring on Friday night, Schneider is playing some gold glove defence in left in the early going.
Riley Tirotta beat out an infield single to short to start the second inning and doubled to center to open up the fourth but Tirotta was erased on a 5-4-3 double play from Ray in the second before being doubled off after Ray lined out to left.
Ray popped out to first to begin the seventh but was replaced in center in the bottom of the inning by Spain. Mack Mueller took over for Spain in right and he would strike out in his only at-bat in the eighth.
Spain had three hits while Schwecke and Tirotta had two apiece. Morris drew a pair of walks.
Robberse settled down after the first inning to put up four zeroes afterwards. He retired eight batters in a row and 12 of his last 13. He allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits while striking out three and walking nobody. Nolan allowed four runs in his one-plus inning of work on three hits and two walks while striking out one. Laws got the win despite getting charged with the blown save as he could not strand Nolan’s three runners. He gave up a hit in the seventh. Ponce got the save by offsetting three walks with three strikeouts.
The Canadians will have an extra day to savour the series victory in Spokane before opening up a six-game series against the Tri-City Dust Devils. Lefthander Naswell Paulino makes his first start in a Vancouver uniform Tuesday in a 6:30 pm contest at Gesa Stadium. Chad Dallas, Hunter Gregory and Adam Kloffenstein are listed as probable starters Wednesday to Friday. It would stand to reason that Trent Palmer and Sem Robberse get the weekend starts and Paulino will get the ball for the C’s home opener against Eugene April 19. All games in Tri-City begin at 6:30 save for the series finale Sunday at 1:30 pm. Tyler Zickel will have the call on CanadiansBaseball.com.