Andrés Sosa points to the sky after homering in the sixth inning Sunday.
The Eugene Emeralds won their second straight game over the Vancouver Canadians 8-4 at Nat Bailey Stadium Sunday afternoon to take three out of the five games in the series.
The Canadians opened the scoring for the first time in the series with a two-out rally in the first inning. Addison Barger singled off Eugene starter Nick Swiney and moved to second on a Riley Tirotta walk on a full-count pitch. Emeralds catcher Patrick Bailey had to knock down a wild pitch but hurried a throw to second and it wound up in center field, allowing Barger to come home with the game’s first run.
Vancouver would score again in the bottom of the third. Garrett Spain drew a leadoff walk and then stole second base. Swiney had Spain picked off but Emeralds first baseman Luis Toribio was unable to pull the trigger to make a throw to second base. Leo Jiménez moved Spain over to third with a ground ball to second base before Barger pulled a single to right through a drawn-in infield to score Spain to make it 2-0 C’s.
Bailey made amends for his throwing error by lifting an 1-2 pitch over the right field fence off Canadians starter Trent Palmer to begin the fourth inning, cutting the Vancouver advantage in half.
The Emeralds bats went to work again in the fifth when Luis Matos forced Palmer from the game with a leadoff walk. Alex Nolan got the first two men he faced on a pair of fly balls to left but Hunter Bishop kept the inning going with a walk. Bailey struck again with a base hit to left that was booted by Harry Ray in left. Ray then made another error on an off-target throw home. That allowed Matos and Bishop to score to give Eugene a 3-2 lead.
Ray looked to atone for his error by yanking a double to left field with one out against Emeralds southpaw Juan Sanchez in the sixth inning. Eugene went to the bullpen again to employ Brett Standlee to face Andrés Sosa and Sosa slammed a two-run home run over the center field wall to give Vancouver a 4-3 lead.
Two pitches into the seeventh, Eugene pulled even when Marco Luciano hammered a ball out of the park to left-center on the second pitch from C’s reliever Jol Concepcion. The ball left so quickly that neither of the three Canadians outfielders moved.
Concepcion ran into more trouble in the eighth when he gave up a Luis Toribio single before issuing a one-out walk to Jimmy Glowenke. Lefthander Jimmy Burnette could not bail out Concepcion as Matos singled with two out to score Toribio to put Eugene back in front 5-4.
The Emeralds would put the game away in the ninth. A Bishop leadoff single was brought home by a Casey Schmitt home run to left-center just beyond the outstretched glove of a leaping Ray near the short fence. Glowenke then got aboard on a walk and he came around to score on a double off the center field wall by Ghordy Santos to conclude the scoring.
The Canadians did not take full advantage of their scoring opportunities Sunday. After Barger scored on the wild pitch/throwing error in the first, Miguel Hiraldo struck out looking to strand Tirotta at second base.
Sosa reached base on a throwing error by Schmidt with two out in the second and Barger’s RBI single in the third were not advanced any further.
The C’s got a one-out walk in the fifth from Spain that chased Swiney from the game. Though Spain was forced out at second by a Jiménez 6-4 fielder’s choice, Barger singled up the middle to put runners on the corners with two outs but Sanchez got out of the inning by getting Tirotta to ground out to short.
Vancouver could not tack on any more runs after Sosa’s two-out, two-run blast in the sixth. Anthony Morales followed Sosa’s swat with a base hit to right and Spain was hit by a pitch on the foot to put two runners on but Jiménez went down swinging on a 3-2 pitch for the third.
Tirotta worked his way aboard with a one-out walk from Nick Morreale in the seventh but he was thrown out by Bailey trying to steal second.
Hugo Cardona also heard ball four with Morreale on the mound in the eighth but that was the last baserunner for Vancouver.
Cole Waites struck out the side in the ninth, reaching 100 miles per hour on the radar gun.
Barger paced the Canadians with a three-hit afternoon, hiking his batting average to .370. Ray, Sosa and Morales supplied the other three hits for the C’s. Span reached base three times with two walks and a hit by pitch in the leadoff spot and also stole his first base of the season. Tirotta walked twice and Cardona walked once.
Barger made a diving stop to his right at short but could not throw out Glowenke to begin the third inning. He showed off his range again in the sixth on a ground ball by Smith and Sosa was able to make the pick at first by doing the splits to complete the 6-3 play. Barger made another diving stop in the eighth but Toribio did beat out to begin the eighth.
Jiménez followed that play to make a nice running grab at second base over the shoulder of a Bishop liner that was heading to center field.
Hiraldo tried to start a double play in the ninth to erase Bishop’s leadoff single in the ninth on a ground ball by Bailey but he had trouble handling the ball at first before recovering to throw out Bailey at first. That extended the inning and gave Schmitt the opportunity to put the game away with a home run.
The Emeralds made Palmer throw 85 pitches over four innings plus one batter. Working from the first base side of the pitching rubber, Palmer stranded a leadoff single by Santos and a walk by Santos to start the game by striking out Luciano, Smith and Bishop.
Palmer enjoyed a 1-2-3 second inning by snaring a comebacker off the bat of Schmitt and starting a 1-3 putout to end the frame.
In the third, Palmer got into a bases loaded jam when Glowenke led off with a single, Matos singled him over to second with one and Smith walked with two out but Palmer struck out Bishop swinging to end the threat.
Palmer had to contend with a Glowenke two-out single in the fourth after Bailey’s home run before getting out of the inning. In all, Palmer allowed five hits and walks but struck out seven and split his four outs in play evenly on the ground and in the air.
Nolan had an unearned run on his ledger as he could not strand Palmer’s leadoff walk, pitching two innings and allowing a hit and two walks while striking out two. He got a free strike in the sixth inning against Schmitt when Schmitt had asked for time but home plate umpire Kellen Martin did not grant it. Nolan went on to strike Schmitt out.
There was a close call for Nolan against Santos in the sixth as he hit one just foul of the right field pole.
He was in line for the win before Concepcion coughed two runs on two hits and two walks over 1-1/3 innings. Burnette could only strand one of two Concepcion runners and gave up three runs on four hits and two walks over 1-2/3 innings with one strikeout.
Radar Gun Rundown
Palmer had strikeouts of 81, 83, 81, 94, 79, 80 and 79 miles per hour. He clocked in at 92-95 and as low as 78.
Nolan had strikeouts at 83 and 84. He was 92-93 and touched 95 and also checked into the low 80s.
Concepcion checked In at 93-95 with offerings of 80 and 85. Burnette rung up two batters at 94 and hit 97 at the high end and 82 at the low end.
The C’s fall to 8-5 on the season and it was just the second time in nine games when the club had homered but lost. Vancouver is one-half game ahead of Tri-City for top spot in the Northwest League and one game ahead of 7-6 Eugene. Hillsboro and Spokane are at 7-8 and Everett is at 5-9.
The Canadians were set to debut their retro Molson Canadian-style uniforms on Thursday before the game was postponed due to rain. The club decided to wear them for Sunday’s finale instead of waiting until the next Throwback Thursday May 5 when the Everett AquaSox are in town. That series begins May 3.
First-half and second-half winners will determine the playoff participants in the Northwest League once again for 2022 with the season broken up into 66-game halves. The 2021 season had no such format as the top two teams at the end of the season automatically advanced to the league final. Had the previous format been in place, the Everett AquaSox would have had a playoff spot after their dominant first half but their late-season fade allowed Eugene and Spokane to grab the top two spots.
The Canadians have Monday off but head back on the road to begin a six-game series at their 2021 home, Ron Tonkin Field in Hillsboro. Sem Robberse is listed as the probable starter for Vancouver. The first five games from Tuesday to Saturday start at 6:35 p.m. Sunday’s series finale is at 1:05 p.m. All games can be heard on CanadiansBaseball.com and seen on MiLB.TV.