The Vancouver Canadians suffered their most disappointing loss of the season to date as the Hillsboro Hops downed the C’s 7-6 in 11 innings at Ron Tonkin Field Wednesday.
Vancouver scored first in the second inning. Hillsboro starter John Carver walked Zach Britton who went to third on a Miguel Hiraldo single to center field. One out later, Andrés Sosa lifted a sacrifice fly to right off his former Old Dominion teammate to bring home Britton with the game’s first run.
Hillsboro evened things up in the third inning. Tim Tawa got a gift double to left with one out against C’s starter Hunter Gregory. C’s shortstop Leo Jiménez appeared to have the fly ball in his sights near the left field line but fell down, allowing the ball the drop. Adrian Del Castillo moved Tawa to third with a sharp grounder that Miguel Hiraldo was able to deftly handle at second base. A.J. Vukovich delivered a two-out single up the middle to cash in Tawa with the tying run.
The Canadians regained the lead again when Riley Tirotta went yard to left-center over his team’s bullpen on the first pitch from Carver in the fourth.
The Hops would pull even again in the fifth. One-out singles by Tawa and Del Castillo put runners on the corners and forced Gregory to leave the game. Tawa’s single appeared to be a routine grounder to second but Hiraldo doubled-clutched the ball and that allowed Tawa to beat it out. Alex Nolan came into the game but balked home Tawa and moved Del Castillo to second. Nolan flinched ever so slightly by bending his knees. There was also confusion on the resulting pitch as Vukovich put it into play which was dropped by Tirotta.
Vancouver would surge ahead in the seventh against Hops reliever Marcos Tineo when Harry Ray reached base with one out on a bang-bang play on a grounder to short. Garrett Spain then dropped down a bunt single back to the mound and Tineo’s throw to first was off the mark, allowing Ray and Spain to pull into scoring position. Tineo would uncorked a wild pitch that Del Castillo that allowed Ray to scamper home. Jiménez and Addison Barger worked back-to-back walks to load the bases. Jackson Goddard took over for Tineo and threw a wild pitch that bounced up the first base side to allow Spain to score. P.K. Morris then dropped a single into center that cashed in Jiménez and Barger to make it a 6-2 game.
The Hops would claw their way back after the seventh-inning stretch. A roller up the first base side allowed Tawa to get aboard against C’s reliever Garrett Farmer. It appeared Farmer had the better angle to pick up the ball and make the throw to first but his catcher Sosa tried to make the play and wound up dropping the ball. One out later, Vukovich took Farmer deep to right for a two-run shot to cut Vancouver’s lead in half.
Hillsboro was back at it again in eighth inning against Mark Simon. Neyfy Castillo dropped a single on a 0-2 pitch in front of a charging Britton in left to start the frame. Cam Coursey would work a five-pitch walk before Andueza singled to center to score Castillo. Ray had overran the ball and was charged with an error but he was able to start an 8-6-3 relay to cut down Coursey at the plate. Andueza did get to third on the play and he would charge home on a tapper to Jiménez to tie the game at 6-6.
Hillsboro would win it in the 11th. With Jose Curpa as the runner on second, Tawa drew a walk against Will McAffer on a 3-2 pitch to open the inning. Del Castillo chopped into a 4-6 fielder’s choice to put runners on the corners. McAffer induced a ground ball to third that could have produced a potential double play but Tirotta’s throw to second was off target and Curpa raced home for the winning run.
Jiménez had an interesting foul ball to start the game. He fouled off the ball and lost control of his bat which landed near the Canadians third base dugout.
The C’s had two runners in scoring position in the second but the best they could do was Sosa’s sac fly. Hiraldo had stolen second and tagged up to go to third but was stranded when Spain struck out.
In the third inning, Jiménez drew a leadoff walk on a questionable ball four before Barger drove one to the warning track in left field. Jiménez was thrown out trying to steal second and Morris grounded out to first on the next pitch to end the inning.
The C’s left another man in scoring position when Hiraldo singled to left with one out in the fourth and moved to second with two outs on a Carver wild pitch but Hiraldo would get no further.
After being retired in order in the fifth, Morris drew a leadoff walk against Carver but Tirotta rapped into a 5-4-3 double play and Britton grounded out sharply to first to end that rally.
The Canadians had two more runners on during their four-run seventh when Tirotta singled to left to move Morris up to second but Britton grounded out to second to strand them.
A leadoff walk by Hiraldo in the eighth did not produce anything despite Hiraldo swiping second and third with one out but Liu Fuenmayor came into the game and retired Sosa on a grounder to third with the infield drawn in before getting Spain to ground out to second.
Gregory survived a first-and-third situation in the first inning. He gave up a leadoff single to Tawa but got Del Castillo to ground into a near 3-6-1 double play but Gregory could not hang on to the ball at first. A two-out single by Roberts put runners on the corners but Gregory got out of the inning by getting Bliss to fly out to right.
A warning track flyout to right by Ryan Bliss started Gregory’s fourth inning and gave up a hard hit flyout to center from Castillo that Ray was able to run down. A routine fly ball to left was dropped by Britton that resulted in Coursey getting to second base. Gregory got out of the frame but getting Andueza on a weak popup back to the mound.
Vancouver was retired in order in the ninth after Jiménez’s fly ball was track downed in the right field corner to start the inning.
In the 10th inning, the C’s were retired in order by Austin Pope with Morris as the placed runner. Britton’s bid for a base hit was snuffed out when Coursey dove and caught a sinking liner at second.
The C’s had two men on base in the 11th but could bring either one home. Hiraldo was the placed runner and he was advanced to third on a grounder to first by Ray who dove headfirst into the bag just after Andueza ranged over to his right to make the play unassisted. Sosa would take a pitch off the left arm to put runners on the corners with one out. However, Spain struck out looking after a 10-pitch at-bat and Jiménez grounded out to third.
Morris, Tirotta and Hiraldo had two hits apiece. Morris drove in two runs and drew walk, Tirotta hit his third homer of the year and Hiraldo stole three bases. Ray and Spain had the other base hit. Jiménez walked twice and Barger and Britton heard ball four once.
Gregory pitched 4-1/3 innings of two-run ball on six hits. He struck out two and walked nobody. Nolan issued a walk but got out of the fifth inning after balking home a run. Nolan worked around a two-out walk to Coursey in the sixth to put 1-2/3 scoreless innings in which he struck out three. Farmer gave up two runs on two hits with one punchout in the seventh and Simon surrendered two runs on two hits and a walk in the eighth.
Lefty Jimmy Burnett struck out the side in the ninth after giving up a leadoff single to short by Del Castillo. A jumping Jiménez got a glove on the ball but could not hang on. Burnett had another leadoff infield single to deal with in the 10th when Castillo beat out Tirotta’s throw from third. With Bliss already on as the placed runner at second base, Burnett buckled down to retire the next three hitters in a row, the last two by strikeout to give him five for the evening.
Lefty Sean Mellen will be moving closer to home as he has been promoted to Double-A New Hampshire. The 24 year-old from Boston split two decisions with a 1.59 earned run average for the C’s, striking out 19 batters in 11 innings. He took the loss despite striking out eight in Tri-City April 12 but won his next appearance against the Dust Devils five days later with two shutout innings. The former Los Angeles Dodgers draft pick from 2019 spent part of last year with the C’s in Hillsboro where he had a 7.52 ERA over 20-1/3 innings.
Taking Mellen’s place is another 24 year-old righthander Ryan Boyer. The Bradford, PA native signed with Toronto as a free agent on January 27 and began this season with Dunedin where he went 1-0 with a 5.68 ERA, putting up a 9-3 K/BB total in 6-1/3 innings spanning five appearances.
Boyer pitched at the Division III level at the University of Pittsburgh-Bradford of the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference for parts of five seasons before heading to Division I ball with Canisius College in Buffalo in 2021. The 6-foot-2, 225-pound hurler also spent last year with the Milwaukee Milkmen of the American Association where he won six times in nine decisions with a 2.72 ERA and struck out 64 batters in 46-1/3 innings. Boyer will wear number 32 for the Canadians, worn earlier by righthander Gabriel Ponce who was promoted recently to Double-A New Hampshire.
Vancouver remains in first place with a 9-6 record, a half-game up on Tri-City and one up on Eugene in the Northwest League standings.
Naswell Paulino‘s turn in the rotation comes up Thursday in the third game of this series. Tyler Zickel has the call on CanadiansBaseball.com. You can also watch the game on MiLB.TV. First pitch from Ron Tonkin Field is at 6:35 p.m.
On a final note, congratulations to Everett AquaSox broadcaster Pat Dillon for calling his 2,000th game.