The Vancouver Canadians did it again to the Tri-City Dust Devils as they recorded another come-from-behind victory by a score of 6-3 at Nat Bailey Stadium Sunday.
Tri-City took the first lead of the game in the fifth inning when Mike Wilson ripped the first pitch from Jimmy Robbins over the right field wall for a leadoff home run. Christian Molfetta then singled on a 0-2 pitch to center and was bunted over to second by Kyle Lovelace who placed up the first base line. Robbins was replaced by Troy Watson and he was greeted by a D’Shawn Knowles single to center field to score Molfetta with the Dust Devils second run.
Vancouver answered back with a leadoff home run of their own as Gabby Martinez lined a ball over the fence into the left field porch off José Salvador to cut the Tri-City lead to 2-1.
The C’s continued on the comeback trail in the seventh inning against Zac Kristofak. A one-out single by Rainer Nuñez to center and a two-out walk by Riley Tirotta on a 3-2 pitch put two runners on in front of P.K. Morris. He fouled off three pitches in a row before working the count even to 2-2 and then belted the next pitch over the wall in right-center to put Vancouver ahead 4-2.
The Dust Devils refused to go away in the eighth. Zach Neto tripled off the wall in center field off Justin Kelly to start the inning and came home on a Joe Stewart infield single to short.
The Canadians opened up some breathing room in the eighth off Brandon Dufault with a two-out uprising. Leo Jiménez muscled a single to left that deflected off the glove of Sepulveda at third and out of the reach of Neto at short on a 0-2 pitch before Damiano Palmegiani rocketed a ball to the porch in left field for a two-run home run.
Tri-City got the first hit of the game when Knowles singled on a 0-2 pitch from Robbins to lead things off but Knowles would be picked off by Robbins on a 1-3-6 play one out later. Robbins would walk Stewart on four straight pitches but sat down Matthews who went down swinging for the third out.
Robbins retired the side in order in the second inning with strikeouts of Christian Sepulveda and Wilson. In between, Dasan Brown ran one down in shallow center off the bat of Mike Peabody.
Molfetta flied to right on the first pitch of the third from Robbins but the next two Tri-City hitters reached when Lovelace was hit in the right elbow and Knowles took four pitches wide of the strike zone. Neto hit a sinking liner to center but Brown made a diving catch for the second out. Stewart then popped up to short to leave two runners on.
The fourth inning for Robbins was just like the second inning as he began and ended the frame by K’ing Matthews and Peabody swinging to bracket a Sepulveda groundout to third.
Watson surrendered Knowles’ RBI single in the fifth but stranded Knowles at second. Knowles advanced on a check swing groundout by Neto but was left in scoring position when Watson struck out Stewart swinging.
The sixth inning featured a Peabody single to right field with two outs but Watson whiffed Matthews and Wilson swinging along with a check swing roller by Sepulveda in betweem that resulted in an unassisted putout by Nuñez at first.
Kelly got a helping hand from Palmegiani to start the seventh when the C’s third baseman charged in on a sharp grounder near the bag to retire Molfetta for the first out. Groundouts to short and second by Lovelace and Knowles helped Kelly complete a three-up, three-down frame.
Connor Cooke came to Kelly’s rescue with one out in the eighth. After a Kelly wild pitch moved Stewart to second, Cooke struck out Sepulveda and Peabody to snuff out the Dust Devils rally and put away Tri-City with a perfect ninth, punctuating it with a called strikeout of Lovelace.
Robbins was charged with two runs on three hits, two walk and a hit by pitch over 4-1/3 innings while recording five strikeouts. Watson allowed a Robbins runner to score on two hits but rung up three batters in 1-2/3 innings. Kelly got the win to boost his record to 7-2 after 1-1/3 innings of one-run ball on two hits while whiffing one. Cooke sat down all five hitters he faced to collect his second save.
Nuñez hit a rainmaker that was caught at the warning track in left field by a leaping Stewart to start the second inning. Tirotta was then robbed of an extra-base hit when Wilson made the catch just before running into the wall in right-center to end the frame.
Morris was the first Vancouver batter to reach base with a leadoff walk in the third inning but he would remain 270 feet away from scoring when Salvador surrounded an Andrés Sosa popup to second with punchouts of Miguel Hiraldo and Brown.
Tirotta got on base with a walk just after Martinez’s leadoff dinger in the fifth but he was thrown out trying to steal second for the final out.
Morris was the only Canadian to reach base twice with a walk and his seventh home run of the season. That homer resulted in the C’s batting 1.000 with runners in scoring position as Morris’ at-bat was the only time there was a runner at second. One runner was left on base. Martinez went yard in just his second High-A at-bat while Palmegiani picked up his eighth round tripper of the year. Jiménez and Nuñez had the other safeties.
Garrett Spain took over for Martinez in right field in the ninth.
Official scorer Mike Hanafin passed along a note about Saturday’s game. Brown was not picked off at first base in the first inning. The Oakville, Ontario native was given second base after Tri-City starter Brett Killam committed a balk.
Vancouver boosts its record to 23-12 in the second half and maintain a 1-1/2 game lead on Eugene for first place. The C’s overall record is now 50-43 and that gives them a 2-1/2 game bulge on Spokane for second place.
The Canadians enjoy a day off before beginning a 12-game road trip that begins in Eugene and wraps up in Everett. The C’s and Emeralds open their series Tuesday night at 6:35 p.m. at P.K. Park. Tyler Zickel will have the call on CanadiansBaseball.com. The game is also on MiLB.TV.
Radar Gun Rundown
Robbins rung up batters at 81, 93, 83, 81, 93 miles per hour and was around 80-95. Watson wasted hitters at 98, 80 and 98. Kelly had a K at 87 and was up to 93. Cooke had K’s of 83 and 97 and was also at 82.