The Vancouver Canadians lost a slugfest to the Eugene Emeralds 11-7 at Nat Bailey Stadium on Thursday night.
The Emeralds wasted little time getting to Canadians starter Adam Macko. After an unsuccessful bunt attempt on the first pitch of the game, Grant McCray laid one down perfectly up the first base line on Macko’s second pitch and beat it out for a bunt single. Aeverson Arteaga singled to left and Logan Wyatt flew out to right, McCray tagged up to go to third and despite a strong one-hop throw from C’s right fielder Garrett Spain, McCray got in safely with a headfirst slide. Jared Dupere ripped a single up the middle to drive in McCray with the game’s first run. Victor Bericoto then executed a hit and run on an 0-2 pitch by rolling a ball through the right side of the infield when Vancouver second baseman Cade Doughty had run to cover the second base bag. That allowed Aretaga to cross the plate with the second Emeralds run. Macko got out of the frame by fanning Luis Toribio and Toronto native Max Wright.
Emeralds starter Eric Silva took care of the C’s in the bottom of the first, battling back from a 3-1 count to strike out Rainer Nuñez to cap a 1-2-3 inning. The visitors went back to work on Macko and used another leadoff bunt single. Ghordy Santos beat out a bouncer back to the mound. Macko’s low throw to first handcuffed Riley Tirotta at first but it looked like Santos would have been safe anyways. Damon Dues then reached on an infield single to Tirotta at first as Macko did not cover the bag in time. A wild pitch compounded matters for the Vancouver lefty before McCray pounded a two-run triple off the manual scoreboard in center field past a leaping Dasan Brown to drive in Santos and Dues. Arteaga struck out swinging but the wild pitch got away from catcher Jommer Hernández. That allowed McCray to score the fifth Emeralds run and Arteaga to beat the throw to first. Macko struck out Wyatt and Dupere swinging to eventually get out of the inning. Hernández was shaken up on a Dupere foul ball as he took a ball off his right leg but he remained in the game.
Damon Dues robbed Alex De Jesus of a hit to begin the bottom of the second as the Em’s third baseman gloved a sharp grounder before spinning and firing a laser throw to first. The C’s got their first baserunner of the game when Josh Kasevich took a pitch off the left elbow guard. Eugene manager Carlos Valderrama argued that Kasevich did not make an effort to get out of the way but the C’s shortstop was allowed to take his base. Tirotta drew a walk and Hernández had the first Vancouver hit of the night by punching a single to right to score Kasevich on a headfirst slide. Tirotta and Hernández moved up an additional 90 feet on Dupere’s throwing error. The runners were stranded when Spain flew out to center.
Macko walked Luis Toribio on four pitches to open the top of the third but was later forced out when Santos hit into a 4-3 fielder’s choice with one out. Toribio was tagged out after Doughty fielded a bouncer from Santos but Doughty felt Toribio interfered when he made the throw to first when the two bumped into each other. C’s manager Brent Lavallee argued on Doughty’s behalf but Santos would remain at first. The inning did end when Santos was thrown out trying to steal second on a headfirst slide as Hernández made a perfect throw to Kasevich covering the bag.
Silva send the C’s away in order in the bottom of the third and the Emeralds would continue to pour it on in the fourth against Makco with a two-out rally. Arteaga doubled to left and Wyatt followed suit with an extra-bag knock to left-center to give Eugene a 6-1 lead. Dupere then pulled a single to right over the head of Doughty to force Macko’s exit from the game. Fellow southpaw Naswell Paulino surrendered a single to short to Bericoto as Kasevich could not get a handle on the chopper near the second base bag. Toribio then delivered a base hit to right to drive in Dupere, putting Eugene ahead 8-1. The inning finally ended on a Wright strikeout.
In the bottom of the fourth, De Jesus picked up a leadoff base on balls against Silva and scampered to third when Doughty lined one up the middle for a base hit. Kasevich then bounced one over Toribio at first for a single to right to deliver De Jesus with the C’s second run. Ben Madison supplanted Silva on the mound and he proceeded to strike out the side by getting Tirotta looking before sitting down Hernández and Spain.
Paulino turned in the first three-up, three-down frame of the night for Vancouver by whiffing Santos to start the fifth before getting McCray to go down swinging to end it. Madison matched Paulino’s effort with a clean fifth inning of his own, getting Brown to fly out on a deep drive to right that Dupere flagged down before the warning track.
Justin Kelly picked up for Paulino and retired the first three men he faced in the sixth, getting Dupere looking at an inning-ending strike three.
Vancouver would draw closer in the bottom of the sixth with DeJesus’ second leadoff walk being the catalyst. A two-out single by Tirotta and a walk by Hernández loaded the bases before Spain smacked one fair down the right field for a three-run double to slice the Eugene lead to 8-5. A passed ball by Wright allowed Spain to reach third before Alan Roden chased Madison from the game with a double to right to score Spain to make it an 8-6 game. José Cruz put an end to the C’s uprising by striking out Brown on three pitches.
Kelly tuned in a carbon copy of the sixth with a clean inning in the seventh, ending with a strike to Wright. The Canadians inched even closer thanks to another leadoff walk when Nuñez got a free pass from Cruz. A Doughty single to left with one out and a passed ball put both men in scoring position. Kasevich was jammed by Cruz and fought it off to send a blooper to right that just fell in front of Dupere. Doughty was caught in between first and second as there was plenty of doubt on whether that ball would touch green. A charging Dupere had the ball glance off his glove but he recovered and forced Doughty out at second on a 9-6 play. Nuñez did score on the play to make it a one-run game but the rally fell short when Tirotta flew out to right on the next pitch.
Eugene squelched any hopes of a comeback when Santos cleared the wall in right field against Conor Larkin to start the eighth. Larkin would get the next three hitters in order with a K of McCray in the mix.
Roden had a single to left with two outs in the bottom of the eighth against Hunter Dula but that was the only fair contact given up as Hernández, Spain and Brown went down swinging.
T.J. Brock came into the game for Vancouver in the top of the ninth and got some help from his defence as Hernández chased down a chopper up the third base side and managed to throw out Wyatt despite slipping on the grass. Dupere then singled to right but tried to stretch it in a double and he was thrown out by Spain on a 9-6 play for the second out. Bericoto kept the inning alive for Eugene with a single to left on a 2-2 pitch past a diving De Jesus at third. Toribio then connected for a two-run homer out of the reach of a leaping Roden in left field to give the Em’s their 10th and 11th runs. Brock struck out Wright to give the Emeralds catcher the golden sombrero to end the frame.
Tyler Myrick finished up the game for the visitors. De Jesus was robbed again by Dues of a potential hit with a smash down near the third base line. The throw from the Em’s third baseman was just in time to get De Jesus. That was in the midst of three consecutive ground ball outs to end the game.
Two roster moves were made prior to Thursday’s game. Infielder Estiven Machado was placed on the Development LIst and first baseman Rainer Nuñez was activated off the Temporary Inactive List.
The afternoon portion of this series begins Friday with a 1:05 p.m. start time. Lefthander Trenton Wallace will take to the hill for the C’s. The game is on CanadiansBaseball.com and MiLB.TV. Dahian Santos and Hunter Gregory will get the weekend starting assignments.
Radar Gun Rundown
Macko had strikeouts of 83, 85, 95 miles per hour with his slowest pitch clocking in at 72. Paulino had punchouts of 80 and 82 and was up to 92. Kelly had Ks of 84 and 92 and ran it up to 97. Larkin checked in at 78 and had one whiff at 93. Brock was at 88 to 98 with a strikeout at 96.