The Vancouver Canadians ended a tough series on a winning note with a 6-1 win over the Everett AquaSox at Nat Bailey Stadium Sunday.
The first run of the game did not come until the top of the sixth inning. Vancouver reliever Justin Kelly got Josh Morgan to pop one up over the second base bag with one out but shortstop Leo Jiménez whiffed on making the catch and was charged with an error. Kelly got Mike Salvatore to fly out on the next pitch but instead of what should have been a quick inning, James Parker—misidentified as Justin by the idiot PA announcer (looks nervously at the guy typing this) before correcting himself (E – PA)—used that slight to battle Kelly to a 13-pitch at-bat. A wild pitch advanced Morgan to second before scoring on Parker’s double to right-center field.
The C’s would turn the game around in the bottom of the sixth. AquaSox reliever Brendan McGuigan walked both Andrés Sosa on a 3-2 pitch and Dasan Brown on four pitches with nobody out. McGuigan uncorked a wild pitch to move the runners up 90 feet before Jiménez atoned for his error with a sacrifice fly to center field to score Sosa and tie the game at 1-1.
Jiménez got some more mileage on the sac fly as Brown tagged up to go to third. Damiano Palmegiani was hit by a pitch as a breaking ball glanced off his left leg to put runners at first and third. Riley Tirotta hit one sharply up the middle but Salvatore was positioned perfectly over the second base bag. Salvatore made the flip to Parker at second base to force out Palmegiani but a hustling Tirotta—whose battling helmet flew off—beat Parker’s relay to first and that allowed Brown to score the go-ahead run. The rally continued when Miguel Hiraldo fell behind in the count 0-2 but was able to single to left on a 1-2 pitch to move Tirotta to third. Everett manager Eric Farris pulled McGuigan from the game and replaced him with Peyton Alford but the lefty’s first pitch was tagged for a single up the middle by P.K. Morris to score Tirotta with Vancouver’s third run.
The C’s would increase their lead with Mike Mokma on the mound in the seventh inning. Sosa started the rally again when he got to second on a one-out throwing error by Salvatore at short that sailed over the head of Dariel Gomez at first base. Brown then beat out a grounder to third base for an infield single that got Sosa over to third. Jiménez grounded one through the five-hole of Salvatore at short to allow Sosa to cross the plate and Brown to get to third. Palmegiani produced a sacrifice fly to left that allowed Brown to come home and increase the C’s advantage to 5-1.
Vancouver put the exclamation point on the victory when Garrett Spain hit a home run into the left field bullpen with two outs in the eighth on a 3-2 pitch by Leon Hunter.
C’s starter Jimmy Robbins put the club on his back and delivered five shutout innings that included 11 strikeouts. The lefty from Orlando got Alberto Rodriguez to pop up to short on the first pitch but had to navigate around a pair of two-out walks to Salvatore and Parker. Robbins bracketed those free passes with strikeouts of Morgan and Sheaffer to get out of the inning.
After retiring seven in a row, Robbins gave up a Salvatore single to right but he struck out the side by sitting Parker, Sheaffer and Gomez swinging.
The fifth inning started with a Colin Davis bouncer that glanced off the glove of P.K. Morris. Spain tracked down the ball in foul territory from right field and fired a seed to Jiménez at second base to cut down Davis in a headfirst slide. Robbins then capped off his final inning by whiffing Cole Barr and Myles Miller.
Abdiel Mendoza entered the game on the mound for Vancouver in the seventh. He walked Gomez on his first four pitches before knocking down a comebacker from Davis and making the throw to first to get the first out. Medonza stranded Gomez at second by getting Cole Barr looking at strike three before inducing a tapper back to the mound from pinch-hitter Trent Tingelstad.
Hiraldo made a terrific defensive play to begin the eighth when he ranged well to his right behind the second base bag to throw out Rodriguez. Brown then showcased his speed by running a ball down just short of the warning track in right-center field to retire Morgan for the second out. Mendoza then struck out pinch-hitter Justin Lavey looking to end the frame.
Gomez singled with two outs in the ninth on a 3-2 pitch but Mendoza got Davis to ground out to first to end the game.
Robbins scattered a hit and two walks with 11 punchouts over five shutout frames to lower his earned run average to 3.86. Kelly had an unearned run on his ledger but got the win to improve his record to 5-2. Mendoza allowed just one hit and a walk and struck out two over three shutout frames to earn his first save of 2022.
Tirotta tallied the first Vancouver hit when he singled up the middle past a diving Salvatore at short off Everett starter Fred Villarreal. The C’s left fielder was thrown out trying to steal second on a close play at the bag as Sheaffer’s strong throw to Salvatore was on the money.
Harry Ray had the next C’s hit in the third with a one-out single to center off Villarreal and stole second base with two outs but Brown grounded out to short to end the inning.
Tirotta was robbed of a hit in the fourth inning as his liner was caught by a leaping Salvatore at short to help Jarod Bayless complete a perfect frame.
In the fifth inning, Morris doubled to right with one out in the fifth but could only get as far as third. Spain was robbed of a hit as Parker ranged over to his right at second to make the throw to first for the second out. Ray hit a comebacker that Bayless got a piece of but Parker was able to throw out Ray by a step to end the rally.
Vancouver had a chance to add on in the eighth inning when Ray doubled to left after Spain’s home run and Sosa walked but Brown struck out looking.
Morris and Ray had two hits apiece with a double and a single and Ray stole his fourth base of the year. Brown reached base twice with a single and a walk and Sosa was on base twice with two bases on balls. Tirotta, Hiraldo and Spain had the other hits with Spain swatting his fifth home run of the season.
Vancouver’s homestand continues Tuesday when the Tri-City Dust Devils come to town. Nick Frasso will pitch against José Salvador in a 7:05 p.m. first pitch on CanadiansBaseball.com and MiLB.TV.
The C’s remain a half-game behind Eugene for first place in the second-half Northwest League standings at 18-11. Their overall record is 48-44 which leaves them half-a-game up on Spokane for second place in the overall standings.
Radar Gun Rundown
Robbins robbed batters of their dignity with strikeouts of 85, 82, 92, 83, 80, 92, 91, 91, 92, 81 and 82 and he was up to 93. Kelly was around 83-94. Mendoza struck out batters at 78 and 9.3