The Vancouver Canadians are playoff bound thanks to a convincing 9-1 victory over the Eugene Emeralds at Nat Bailey Stadium Wednesday.
Dasan Brown set the tone for Vancouver with a leadoff home run off to straightaway center field into the wind on a 3-2 pitch from Emeralds starter Nick Swiney in the first inning. That was the first professional home run on Canadian soil for the Oakville Flash.
After giving up six runs in the second inning of the series opener Tuesday, the Canadians returned the favour with a six-run frame in their second turn at bat. Michael Turconi walked with nobody out, stole second and was joined on the basepaths by Miguel Hiraldo who heard ball four. Jommer Hernandez then snuck one underneath the glove of Emeralds second baseman Simon Whiteman and the error allowed Turconi to score Vancouver’s second run.
Garrett Spain stepped up and touched green with a single to right field to score Hiraldo.
Brown was back at it again as he laced an opposite-field single to right to drive in Hernandez.
Surrey, B.C. native Damiano Palmegiani check-swung a run back to Swiney on the mound to get Spain across the dish. It was originally ruled a sacrifice but the scoring has been changed to a groundout.
P.K. Morris capped off the inning with a two-run homer into the left field porch above the seating area of the left field bullpen to get Brown home and make it 7-0 Vancouver.
Hiraldo belted a home run that cleared the left field porch on the first pitch he saw from Em’s reliever Trevor McDonald. The one-out solo blast gave the C’s a commanding 9-0 advantage.
Vancouver ran their lead to nine in the seventh when Palmegiani doubled to left with nobody out. A passed ball by Wright and a walk to Morris followed before Gabby Martinez produced a sacrifice fly to cash in Palmegiani.
Michael Dominguez blanked Eugene for the first six innings and Sam Ryan followed with a zero on the linescore in the seventh. The Em’s did get their only run in the eighth off Eric Pardinho. Robert Emery picked up a leadoff walk and ran to second on defensive indifference. He was moved over to third on a one-out single to right by Damon Dues. A walk by Whiteman loaded the bases before a two-out wild pitch scored Emery.
Devereaux Harrison—not Henderson according to the knucklehead P.A. announcer (E – PAA is how that is scored!)—got the final three outs to clinch the C’s spot in the postseason.
Dominguez surrendered a leadoff single to Grant McCray—the son of former major leaguer and 1990-1991 C’s outfielder Rodney McCray, he of the infamous wall crashing incident of ’91 in Portland. Luis Matos popped out to second but McCray stole second base. Marco Luciano struck out swinging but a passed ball by Hernandez gave McCray another 90 feet. Luciano claimed he foul-tipped the ball and MiLB.TV replays indicated that was not the case. So after Hernandez retrieved the ball from the backstop, he applied the tag on the Emeralds shortstop who remained in the right-hand batter’s box for the second out. The inning ended when Hunter Bishop grounded out to first.
From there, Dominguez was rolling as he struck out Jared Dupere and Emery swinging in a perfect second inning and punched out Dues swinging and Whiteman looking in a 1-2-3 third.
Matos snapped Dominguez’s string of nine in a row retired when he lifted a pop fly that was knocked down by the wind to start the fourth. Despite the best efforts of Hiraldo and Morris racing in from the right side of the infield, the ball landed on the mound before Hiraldo picked it up. Dominguez gave way to his infielders as he is supposed to do on a pop-up but things worked out for the C’s when Matos was caught stealing second base by Hernandez. Luciano drew a walk on a full count and moved to second on a wild pitch but Dominguez got Bishop to line out to right before striking out Dupere swinging.
Three more punchouts highlighted Dominguez’s last two innings as he struck out Toronto native Max Wright in the fifth. Hernandez chased down the strike three pitch at the Emeralds on-deck circle to throw out his catching counterpoart. Dominguez then rung up Whiteman and Matos to begin and end the sixth. That gave Dominguez a string of eight Emeralds set down in order.
Ryan was on the mound for a good time and not a long time as he needed nine pitchers to face the minimum in the seventh inning as Luciano flew out to center before Bishop and Dupere grounded out sharply to first and second respectively. Morris made a nice pick on Bishop’s grounder and made the putout by himself.
Pardinho stranded runners at second and third after his wild pitch scored the Emeralds only run as he struck out Matos swinging. He rang up Wright looking and McCray swinging to strike out the side.
Harrison walked Luciano to begin the ninth but he was forced out on a Bishop 6-4 fielder’s choice which was the result of a misjudged popup by De Jesus at third base but Turconi got to the ball to get the forceout. Dupere grounded out to third before Harrison struck out Emery swinging to end the game.
The win went to Dominguez as he got his first W in a Vancouver uniform thanks to six shutout innings on just two hits and a walk. He struck out nine and added five outs on the ground. After Ryan’s 1-2-3 seventh, Pardinho was charged with a run on one hit and two walks but struck out three. Harrison pitched around a leadoff walk and ended the game with a punchout.
Morris singled to right with one out in the first past a diving Whiteman at second for the second Vancouver hit of the night.
Turconi appeared to beat out a grounder to short after chopping one into the dirt to start the third inning but he was called out by base umpire Matt Blackboro on a bang-bang play at first. That was just before Hiraldo’s home run. Hernandez then chopped one to the mound that glanced off McDonald’s glove but the Em’s righty could not locate the ball when it was behind him. That resulted in a two-out infield single for the Vancouver backstop.
The C’s were turned away in the fourth when Martinez and Alex De Jesus singled to left and center respectively with two outs but Turconi lined out to second.
Hiraldo had a leadoff walk in the fifth to give Vancouver at least one runner per inning. After being retired in order for the first time in the seventh, Brown pulled a single to left to begin the eighth for Vancouver’s last hit of the night.
Brown contributed three hits with a homer and two singles. Hiraldo homered for the 11th time this year, walked twice and stole his 27th base. Morris also reached thrice with his 12th dinger, a single and a base on balls. Palmegiani doubled, Martinez had a single and sac fly while De Jesus, Hernandez and Spain also picked up a knock. Turconi walked and stole his first base as a member of Monty’s Mounties. Vancouver capitalized on three of their eight opportunities with runners in scoring position and stranded six men.
Vancouver picked up its 67th win against 58 losses on the season to wrap up second place in the overall Northwest League standings. The C’s are 37-25 in the second half and trail Eugene for first place. No matter what, it will be the Canadians and Emeralds in the Northwest League final.
The playoff schedule for the NWL final has been set. Games 1 and 2 will be held Monday, September 12 and Tuesday, September 13 at 7:35 p.m. Game 3 goes Friday, September 16. If necessary, Game 4 is on Saturday, September 17 and Game 5 is set for Sunday, September 18. Games 3 and 4 are scheduled for 7:05 p.m. and Sunday’s game would take place at 1:05 p.m. All games are on MiLB.TV and Tyler Zickel will also have the call on CanadiansBaseball.com.
Chad Dallas is set to make his final regular season start for the Canadians. He is scheduled to fire the first pitch at 7:05 p.m. The Emeralds are going with Charlie Wholestaff. Tyler Zickel will call the game on CanadiansBaseball.com and MiLB.TV.
Radar Gun Rundown
Dominguez was around 80 to 97 miles per hour and struck out batters at 83, 83, 83, 84, 84, 93, 82, 83. Ryan was around 90 on the only pitch I took note of (sorry!). Pardinho had punchies of 93, 85 and 81 and also checked in at 80. Harrison was around 78-92.