The Vancouver Canadians were able to hold off the Spokane Indians 4-3 at Nat Bailey Stadium Tuesday night.
The C’s jumped on Spokane starter Mike Ruff early as Steward Berroa singled to center field just two pitches into the bottom of the first inning. Berroa wasted little time getting into scoring position as he stole second on Ruff’s next pitch. Leo JIménez would bring Berroa around to score on a double that landed just fair down the left field line. Addison Barger followed suit by also pulling a double that went to right field to score Jiménez to give Vancouver a 2-0 advantage.
Vancouver would double their lead with a two-out rally in the bottom of the fourth. Andrés Sosa ripped a ball down the left field line but the ricochet off the third base wall to Robby Martin allowed the Spokane left fielder to hold Sosa to a long single. Sosa’s decision to settle for a single proved wise when Berroa blasted one over the right field wall on a 3-2 pitch for a two-run home run to make it 4-0 C’s.
Spokane would respond in the top of the fifth against Sem Robberse. Had it not been for a wild pitch on a strikeout of Martin, the C’s would have had a 1-2-3 inning. Instead, Martin made it to first after the strike three pitch skidded away from Sosa in foul territory on the first base side . Robberse would strike out Nic Kent looking for what would have been the third out but it was just two outs instead. Martin then stole second base as he got his left foot to the bag just ahead of the tag by the shortstop Jiménez. However, Jiménez’s head collided with Martin’s hip and sent him to the ground. In a Sem vs. Sems matchup, Ben Sems drew a walk to put two runners on. Martin and Sems would come into to score when Braiden Ward hit a double on a 0-2 pitch to the base of the wall underneath the video board in left-center to cut the Canadians lead in half at 4-2. Abdiel Mendoza replaced Robberse on the hill but his first pitch was lined to left field for a single by Zac Veen and that scored Ward to make it a one-run game.
Robberse had an early issue in the top of the first inning. A one-out walk to Veen led to the Rockies 2020 first-round pick stealing second and getting to third on a Sosa passed ball as the C’s catcher lost his glove on an outside pitch. Robberse struck out Romo and retired Grant Lavigne on a grounder to first to get out of that jam.
The third inning saw Robberse field a slow chopper up the first base from Sems. Robberse took the ball to the first base bag himself but a hustling Sems made it a close play and he wound up bumping into the C’s righthander. Sems took the worst of it of the collision as he fell to the ground but was okay to continue. That was the second out of a 1-2-3 inning for Robberse that included strikeouts of Kent and Ward.
A string of 10 straight Spokane hitters retired by Robberse came to an end when Lavigne worked a full-count walk with two outs in the fourth. The pitch before, Lavigne hit one that had the distance but it was ruled foul down the right field line. Lavigne stole second and just beat the tag of Jiménez on the batting helmet. Sosa doubled-clutched before unleashing his throw in a close play at the bag. Robberse would end the inning with a strikeout of Colin Simpson.
Riley Tirotta helped Robberse retire Julio Carreras by making a nice pick at third before spinning and firing to a stretched-out Morris at first to complete the 5-3 putout to begin the fifth.
After Mendoza gave up the RBI single to Veen, he retired Drew Romo on the next pitch on a grounder to first to strand Veen to end the fifth inning. Along with Mendoza’s appareance on the mound, Jiménez was replaced at short by Schwecke who moved over from right field, Davis Schneider went from left to right and Harry Ray entered the game to take over in left field.
The sixth inning saw Lavigne greet Mendoza with a single to right field. Though Lavigne made it to second on a Simpson grounder to first, Mendoza got Carreras to pop out to second and covered the bag on a 3-1 groundout to get Martin to retire the side. Mendoza would retire the last six hitters he faced. He knocked out a Sems comebacker off his left thigh before recovering and making the throw to first for the second out of the seventh. He handled another comebacker from Ward and made another 1-3 putout.
Burnette drilled Veen in the ribs to start off the eighth inning. The lefty got ahead of Romo 0-2, ran the count full but rallied to strike out the Spokane catcher for the first out. Veen would swipe second but Burnette sat down Lavigne and Simpson to get out of the inning. Burnette would whiff Carreras, Martin and Kent to wrap it up.
Robberse put up four zeroes before being charged with three runs over 4-2/3 innings. He allowed just one hit and walked three but struck out seven in an 87 pitch outing, 57 of them for strikes.
Mendoza improved to 3-0 on the year with two shutout innings of two-hit ball and Burnette overcame a hit by pitch with six punchouts to collect his fourth save of the year.
The C’s looked like they were on the way to a bigger first inning when Schwecke drove one out to left field but it died on the warning track. That allowed Barger to tag up and advance to third after his RBI double. Ruff would keep Barger at third by striking out Morris and Tirotta swinging on 3-2 pitches.
In the second inning, Schneider singled up the middle past a diving Carreras at short with one out and proceeded to steal second. Sosa joined Scheider on base by drawing a full-count walk before Schneider wound up stealing third. Berroa struck out looking and had a few words with home plate umpire Hector Cuellar before slowly walking back to the dugout. Jiménez then hit into a 6-4 fielder’s choice for the third out.
Barger began the bottom of the third with a single to right and tagged up to go to second on a fly ball to left by Schwecke but Ruff struck out Morris and got Tirotta to pop up to short to strand another runner in scoring position.
Before Berroa’s home run in the fourth, Miguel Hiraldo banged a leadoff double off the centre-field wall on a 3-1 pitch from Ruff. Hiraldo stole third as Ruff’s throw got away from Sems. C’s manager Brent Lavallee waved Hiraldo home after his headfirst slide into third. However, Hiraldo did not realize the ball had gotten away from Sems who was able to recover and threw the ball home to Romo who applied the tag on Hiraldo after another headfirst slide.
Veen nearly made a nice running catch in foul territory but he could not hold on to the ball on the pop up by Barger to begin the fifth inning. Barger would strike out before Trevor Schwecke was retired on a sharp grounder to short. Lavigne had to come off the first base bag to tag Schwecke after an off-target throw by Carreras. Morris kept the inning going by working a walk against lefty Austin Kitchen after falling behind in the count 0-2 but Tirotta grounded out to second for out number three.
The C’s were retired in order in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings. Berroa was robbed of a hit on a sliding catch by Veen in right field to begin the seventh and Carerra came charging in from shortstop to make a sliding catch on the first base side of the mound to get Tirotta to end the seventh.
Berroa’s two-run home run was his second of the year as part of a two-hit night. He also stole his ninth base. Barger had two hits as well and he and Jiménez contributed RBI doubles. Hiraldo doubled and stole his 14th bag while Schneider singled and stole a couple to run his season total to four. Sosa singled and walked to reach base twice. Morris had the other Vancouver walk. The C’s were 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position and left five men on base
Now with 21 wins and 21 losses on the season, the Canadians will try to get over the .500 mark with Chad Dallas getting the starting assignment. Tony Locey gets the call for Spokane in a 7:05 p.m. start on CanadiansBaseball.com and MiLB.TV.
Congratulations to Sem Robberse for capturing the Northwest League Pitcher of the Week award for May 23-29. Robberse pitched a two-hitter and struck out four over seven shutout innings in Hillsboro May 24. He joins fellow righties Chad Dallas and Trent Palmer (now with Double-A New Hampshire) as NWL Pitchers of the Week in 2022 and first baseman P.K. Morris as the Player of the Week.
All the best to 2019, 2021 and 2022 C’s outfielder Cameron Eden after his promotion to Double-A New Hampshire. The 24 year-old from Yuba City, California was Toronto’s sixth round pick out of California in the 2019 draft. He batted .297 in 10 games with Monty’s Mounties this year and had four doubles, a triple, two runs batted in and two stolen bases. The highlight for Eden was a 4-for-4 game with eight total bases in Hillsboro May 25. Fun Fact Alert! Eden wore 27, 28 and 29 in his three seasons with Vancouver.
On a final note, congratulations to the Victoria HarbourCats of the summer collegiate West Coast League for their Opening Day win over Port Angeles Tuesday. The C’s had to wait 963 days to play a regular season game at Nat Bailey Stadium while the HarbourCats had to wait 54 days longer thanks to COVID cancelling the 2021 and 2022 seasons. Also all the best to the Kamloops NorthPaws, the Nanaimo NightOwls/Bars and Edmonton RiverHawks as they finally get to play ball this summer.
Radar Gun Rundown
Robberse rung up batters at 85, 84, 85, 85, 84, 84 and 89 miles per hour and was between 82 and 92. Medina was in the 79-92 range. Burnette struck out batters at 94, 80, 80, 94, 94 and 82 and was up to 95.