P.K. Morris punctuated Vancouver’s doubleheader sweep of Tri-City with a grand slam in Game 2.
The C’s trailed in the early going of Game 1 when the Dust Devils strung together three straight singles off Hunter Gregory to start the bottom of the first inning. Osmy Gregorio drilled a hot shot that at short that Leo Jimenez could not handle, went to second on a Kyle Kasser base hit and scored when Kyren Paris found a hole on the left side of the infield.
Vancouver tied the game immediately in the top of the second when Miguel Hiraldo led off with a home run to center field on the first pitch he saw from Jake Smith.
The Canadians would grab the lead in the third off Smith. A leadoff single to left by Zach Britton was moved into scoring position on an Addison Barger tapper back to the mound with two outs before Riley Tirotta lined a single up the middle to drive in Britton for what turned out to be the winning run.
Abdiel Mendoza took over for Gregory after four innings and pitched three shutout innings to earn the win in relief.
The beginning of Game 2 followed a similar script to Game 1 as the first three Tri-City batters opened the game by reaching base. The difference was that two runs scored instead of one. Paris walked on four pitches from Vancouver starter Adam Kloffenstein. A single by Jose Guzman followed before Steven Rivas ripped a double to center field to score Paris and Guzman.
After coming up empty against Dust Devils starter Braden Olthoff in the first five innings, the Canadians offence came to life off lefty Nick Jones. A one-out walk to P.K Morris was advanced 90 feet by a Barger grounder to second and was driven home on a Tirotta triple to center field. Tirotta would score the tying run when Jose Guzman threw a ground ball from Davis Schneider away.
The game would remain tied until 2-2 until the 10th inning. With pinch-runner Hugo Cardona at second base as the placed runner, Dust Devils reliever Brandon Dufault loaded the bases by walking Britton and plunking Jimenez on the arm. Morris then unloaded on a 1-2 pitch to center field for a grand slam to put Vancouver ahead by four.
Tri-City made a last gap with a two-out rally against Canadians reliever Colton Laws. A single by Gabe Matthews drove in Paris, who started the inning at second base. Matthews would come home on a triple by Gregorio. A walk to Mike Peabody put the potential tying run on base. Vancouver manager Brent Lavallee summoned Will McAffer to take over on the mound and the North Vancouver native took care of business by striking out Straton Podaras on three pitches to end the game.
In Game 1, the C’s had a two-out rally in the first when Jimenez walked and Barger singled but Tirotta flied out to center.
Tirotta’s RBI single in the third was the last hit for Vancouver until Tirotta opened the sixth with an infield single to short against Tri-City reliever Ryan Costeiu. A one-out walk by Schneider put two runners on base but Garrett Spain hit into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Anthony Morales started the seventh with a base knock to right off Costeiu but Cardona hit into a 5-4-3 twin killing to spoil that inning. Eight Canadians reached base at least once with Tirotta and Jimenez getting aboard twice. Tirotta had two singles while Jimenez walked and took one for the team. Tirotta also stole his second base of the season.
After allowing the first three batters he faced to reach base, Gregory rallied by striking out the side swinging to end the first inning. He wound up striking out six and he faced just one batter over the minimum in his last three innings. Gregory hit Christian Molfetta in the second inning and allowed a bunt single by Kasser in the third that was taken care of with an inning-ending 6-3 double play.
Mendoza gave up just one hit over three innings, a leadoff single by Kasser in the sixth that was bunted over to second by Paris and advanced to third on a Rivas grounder to first but Mendoza got Kenyon Yovan to pop up to first strand Kasser. He set down the side in order in the fifth and seventh to earn his first win of the season.
In Game 2, Britton doubled on the first pitch of the game after Gabe Matthews deflected the ball at first base. Morris moved Britton to third but Barger fouled out to left field to end the inning. Olthoff set down nine in a row until Jimenez began the fourth inning with an infield single to third. A one-out Barger double to right field and a two-out walk to Schneider loaded the bases but Olthoff struck out the side swinging.
Jimenez worked a two-out walk against Tri-City reliever Nathan Burns but did not make it any further.
Vancouver got the potential winning run as far as third base in the eighth inning when Barger flied out to right field to get Morris over to third but Dakota Donovan retired the next five batters in a row, three of them by strikeout.
Barger had the lone two-hit game for the C’s but Jimenez was the on-base leader with a hit, a walk and a hit by pitch. Britton, Morris and Schneider reached base twice with Britton and Morris collecting a hit and a walk and Schneider hearing ball four twice. Vancouver won the game despite going 2-for-17 with runners in scoring position and leaving 11 men stranded.
Kloffenstein lasted four innings and gave up two runs on six hits and three walks but struck out five. He kept the damage to just two runs in the first inning thanks to a pickoff of Rivas at third base for the second out. A Gregorio single and a Peabody walk kept the inning going for Tri-City but Kloffenstein got Podaras to pop out back to the mound to end the threat.
Alex Nolan kept Tri-City at bay with two perfect innings of relief. The former Brock Badger average two strikeouts an inning, limiting the Dust Devils contact to a fly out to left and a foul pop up behind home plate.
Gabriel Ponce worked a 1-2-3 seventh inning but loaded the bases in the eighth with a one-out walk to Matthews and a two-out free pass to Peabody to join Guzman, the placed runner at the start of the inning. Ponce would strike out Podaras looking to get out of that jam.
Laws earned his second win of the year by doing his best work in the ninth. Podaras advance to third on a Francisco Del Valle grounder to second base to begin the frame but Laws would keep Podaras 90 feet away by striking out Edwin Yon swinging and getting Paris to fly out.
The first place Canadians—who have won five of seven to start the year—send Trent Palmer to the hill in the fifth game of this six game set. First pitch is 6:30 pm at Gesa Stadium and can be heard on CanadiansBaseball.com.