The Vancouver Canadians got by the Hillsboro Hops 4-3 at Ron Tonkin Field Saturday.
Hillsboro lefthander Yu-Min Lin walked Rainer Nuñez with two outs in the first but wound up striking out the side. Vancouver starter Dahian Santos dodged a two-out rally when Ivan Melendez singled to center field and J.j. D’Orazio walked by getting Shane Muntz with a called strike three.
Lin struck out two batters in a perfect second while Santos had another two-out problem to deal with when he walked Joshua Day on four pitches. Day was thrown out trying to steal second by catcher Jommer Hernández to end the bottom of the second.
Lin and Santos traded perfect frames in the third with Lin getting one strikeout and Santos getting Jacen Roberson looking at strike three and Wildred Patiño going down swinging.
Vancouver got the game’s first run in the top of the fourth. Nuñez singled to right field with one out and moved to second on a Lin wild pitch. After striking out Cade Doughty for the second out, Lin was pulled from the game in favour of Listher Sosa. The first batter he faced was Gabby Martinez and he drove in Nuñez with a double down the right field line to put the C’s ahead 1-0. Alex De Jesus got aboard on an infield single to short to get Martinez over to third but Sosa struck out Dasan Brown swinging.
Hillsboro staged a one-out rally in the bottom of the fourth when D’Orazio singled to center and Muntz walked. Both runners moved up on a Gavin Logan groundout to second but Santos got Jarrod Watkins to ground out to first to end the inning.
The Canadians would score again in the top of the fifth off Sosa. Riley Tirotta hit a sinking liner to right and the ball got past a diving Watkins to allow Tirotta to get to third. The former Dayton Flyer took a healthy turn rounding third after having designs of an inside-the-park home run but he was able to scramble back safely for a triple. Tirotta had to hold at third after a Hernández ground ball was hit to second with the infield in but Ortiz’s throwing error at second combined with Muntz dropping the ball allowed Hernández to make it to first. Devonte Brown hit into a 3-6 fielder’s choice that forced out Hernández but allowed Tirotta to cross the plate with Vancouver’s second run. Brown got himself into scoring position by stealing second but he would be left there.
The Hops were able to get on the board against Santos in the bottom of the fifth. Robertson singled to center with one out and stole second base with two out. A De Jesus fielding error at short on an Ortiz ground ball put runners on the corners. Ortiz stole second and a wild pitch allowed Roberson to score the Hops first run. Santos struck out Melendez to get out of the frame.
Sosa struck out the side in the top of the sixth to send the Hillsboro offence back into the batter’s box. C’s reliever Abdiel Mendoza gave up a D’Orazio leadoff double to right and a Logan one-out walk before getting Watkins to tap out into a 1-6-3 double play.
Dasan Brown began the top of the seventh with a base hit to right off José Alcantara but he was forced out on a front-end of a 4-3 double play by Tirotta to put a damper on that rally.
Hillsboro would surge ahead against Mendoza after the seventh-inning stretch. Day walked on four pitches before Roberson struck out but in the span of three straight pitches, back-to-back-to-back singles to left by Patiño, Ortiz and Melendez scored Day with the tying run. D’Orazio grounded to short but managed to prevent a double play by beating the throw from second to score Patiño to give the Hops a 3-2 lead. Mendoza retired Muntz on a fly ball to right to get out of the inning.
Vancouver would rally in the eighth when Roden doubled to center with one out before Nuñez walked. Martinez then came through with a two-out single to left to plate Roden with the tying run. Alcantra kept Nuñez at second by striking out De Jesus for the third out.
Matt Svanson was next on the hill for Vancouver and gave up an infield single to short by Day with two out before striking out Roberson to send the game to the ninth.
The ninth inning began with a leadoff walk to Dasan Brown and he moved to second on a Tirotta infield single to third after Melendez could not corral the baseball. Hernández struck out swinging before Brown stole third base and came home on an Alcantara balk. Devonte Brown struck out swinging against Alcantara before lefty Will Mabrey was called in from the Hops bullpen to retire Roden on a fly ball to left.
In a relatively stress-free inning, Connor Cooke pitched the ninth for the C’s and retired Patiño on a grounder to first before striking out Ortiz and Melendez swinging to collect the save. Svanson was credited with the win.
The Canadians got the win despite striking out 17 times, eight of them by Lin and five by Alcantara. They improve to 13-9 on the season.
The Canadians and Hops conclude this six-game series on Sunday. Hunter Gregory gets the rawhide for Vancouver in a 1:05 p.m. start. The game is on CanadiansBaseball.com with Tyler Zickel on the call as well as MiLB.TV.
Righthander Sam Ryan has been activated from the Development List and is heading to Double-A New Hampshire. The Fairfax, Virginia native pitched 5-1/3 innings with the C’s this year and has spent parts of the 2021 and 2022 seasons with Monty’s Mounties.
2021-2022 C’s lefty Sean Mellen has been promoted to Triple-A Buffalo. He was 1-1 with a 0.93 earned run average with New Hampshire over 9-2/3 innings.
2021-2022 righthander Sem Robberse pitched a one-hitter and struck out seven over six shutout innings as New Hampshire blanked Harrisburg 1-0 in the Granite State. Juan Nuñez (2017-2019, 2022-2023), Hagen Danner (2021) and Troy Watson (2021-2022) finished things with one shutout frame apiece with Nuñez striking out the side and Danner striking out two. Watson whiffed one for the save to help Nuñez get the win. Steward Berroa was 2-for-3 and scored the only run. Leo Jiménez was 2-for-4.
Thanks a million to Ben Abel, host of The Golden V Podcast who invited me to chat about all things Canadians. You are invited to check it out below.