The Vancouver Canadians were embarrassed by the Hillsboro Hops 7-1 at Nat Bailey Stadium Saturday.
The Hops jumped on C’s starter Dahian Santos as the first four batters scored thanks to back-to-back home runs. A.J. Vukovich drilled a three-run shot to left-center field to score a Ryan Bliss leadoff walk and a Caleb Roberts infield single to short in which Alex De Jesus tried to make the throw to first from deep in the hole instead of going to second. Vukovich’s blast was followed by another home run to left off the bat of Neyfy Castillo.
Hillsboro scored again against Santos in the third. Vukovich doubled to left on the first pitch and Castillo drew a walk. One out later, Vukovich and Brown executed a double steal before a sacrifice fly by Gavin Logan scored Vukovich.
The Hops expanded their lead in the fourth when Bliss lined a single to left with one out against Garrett Farmer. Bliss stole second base and a throwing error by Jommer Hernandez which nicked off the glove of De Jesus allowed Bliss to make it home when the ball was lobbed in from the outfield. C’s manager Brent Lavallee came out to the mound to address the infield defence afterwards. Canadians broadcaster Tyler Zickel summed it up, ‘For me, that might have been the worst defensive sequence of the season”.
Vancouver broke the shutout in the sixth against Justin Martinez. Dasan Brown banged a double off the center field wall. Rainer Nuñez would line a single off the leg of Jarrod Watkins at first base. The ball was hit so hard it rolled into foul territory and it allowed Brown to score all the way from second. Watkins remained in the game but was later pinch-hit for.
The man who replaced Watkins in the batter’s box in the sixth inning was Fox Semones. He drove in the game’s final run with a bloop single to right to cash in Vukovich who had singled to right and stole second and third.
The C’s looked like they were going to get back into the game when Brown and Andrés Sosa saw a combined eight pitches miss the strike zone by Hops starter Evan Short to start the game. Damiano Palmegiani flied out to center, Rainer Nuñez hit a slow chopper to third to move the runners up but Miguel Hiraldo popped up to short to end the rally.
C’s manager Brent Lavallee took umbrage with the work of the umpiring crew. He argued a stolen base call in the second in which Roberts was ruled safe by base umpire Paul Roemer. Replays on MiLB.TV seemed to indicate that De Jesus tagged Roberts on the right foot on a feet first side.
The first Vancouver hit came in the fifth when De Jesus hit a ball just fair down the left field line that bounced over De Los Santos at third base for a one-out double. That prevented Short from getting the necessary five innings for the win. He struck out Hernandez before being replaced by Gerald Ogando. The inning ended when Glenn Santiago was robbed of a double on an incredible diving catch by Roberts in the left-center gap just shy of the warning track.
Vancouver had two runners on base in the sixth when Sosa drew a walk ahead of Nuñez’s RBI single but Hiraldo flied out to center and Gabby Martinez struck out swinging.
De Jesus opened the seventh with a leadoff walk by De Jesus but a called strikeout of Hernandez on a 3-2 pitch that was outside resulted in Lavallee saying enough is enough and he was ejected from the game by Matt Blackboro. Santiago also had words for Blackborow after he disagreed with a called strike three. The inning continued when Brown was drilled on the left wrist by Justin Martinez who was pumping gas by throwing 100 miles per hour, hitting 102 at one point. Sosa earned a two-out walk to load the bases but Justin Martinez completed the trifecta of reverse K’s by getting Palmegiani looking.
The eighth inning saw Nuñez single to left but was forced out on a 6-4 fielder’s choice by Hiraldo. Gabby Martinez singled to right to end the night for Justin Martinez. José Alcantara retired De Jesus on a 5-4 fielder’s choice and struck out Hernandez to end the threat.
The last Vancouver hit was by Sosa who singled to center off Alcantara with two outs in the ninth before Palmegiani hit a game-ending grounder to short.
Sosa was on base four times with a single and three walks. Brown was on base three times with a double, a walk and a hit by pitch. Nuñez had a two-hit night with an RBI and De Jesus reached base twice with a double and a walk. Gabby Martinez had the other base hit as Vancouver was a woeful 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position, leaving 11 men on.
Farmer stranded bloop single to left by Roberts just over the glove of De Jesus at short to start the sixth and overcame a one-out De Jesus error when he booted a slow roller from Channy Ortiz by striking out Bliss and Roberts swinging.
Paulino navigated his way around an Ortiz leadoff walk and one-out plunking of Roberts on the left elbow with one out with whiffs of Bliss and De Los Santos before Santiago ran one down in left field to take away a hit from Vukovich to end the frame.
Palmegiani helped Paulino get out of the seventh inning by making a nice running catch in foul territory just before the third base wall.
T.J. Brock turned in the best pitching line for Vancouver in the ninth by retiring the side in order by striking out Semones swinging and Logan looking.
Santos suffered the loss with five runs allowed on five hits and two walks while striking out three over three innings. Farmer pitched 3-2/3 innings and allowed two runs (one earned), whiffing four without a walk. Paulino could not strand a runner for Farmer but pitched 1-1/3 shutout innings with a hit and two walks, ringing up two batters. Brock struck out two of the three men he faced in the ninth.
The only good news for Vancouver came from the out-of-town scoreboard as Everett rallied to beat Spokane at Funko Field to keep the C’s 1-1/2 games ahead of Spokane in the race for the final playoff spot. Vancouver also remains 1-1/2 games back of Eugene for the top spot in the second half standings after the Emeralds were topped by Tri-City. The C’s are at 31-21 in the second half and 61-54 overall.
The series finale goes Sunday afternoon as Nathanael Perez will pitch for the first time at Nat Bailey Stadium. Yilber Diaz gets the call for Hillsboro in a 1:05 p.m. start on CanadiansBaseball.com and MiLB.TV.
Radar Gun Rundown
Santos was around 78 to 95 miles per hour with strikeouts of 92 and 85. Farmer was around 72-88 with punchouts of 85, 89 and 82. Paulino was at 78 -92 with punchouts of 89 and 87. Brock clocked in at 88 to 97 with K’s of 89 and 96.