The Vancouver Canadians rallied to beat the Hillsboro Hops 5-3 at Ron Tonkin Field on Sunday.
The C’s looked to score first in their first at-bat against Hops starter Eli Saul. Dasan Brown beat out an infield chopper to first base for a one-out single and Rainer Nuñez followed with a base hit to left. Nuñez was forced out on a Gabby Martinez 6-4 fielder’s choice and Alex De Jesus went down swinging to leave two men on.
Vancouver starter Hunter Gregory gave up a Channy Ortiz single to center with one out but struck out Jesus Valdez swinging to eventually get out of the bottom of the first.
The C’s got another runner on with one out when Josh Kasevich drew a second-inning walk. He got to second on a Garrett Spain ground out to second but Saul struck out Karl Ellison swinging to turn Vancouver away.
S.P. Chen started the bottom of the second with a base hit to right off Gregory before Jarrod Watkins hit into a 6-4-3 double play that helped put an end to that rally.
The C’s tried to stage a two-out rally against Hops reliever Zach Barnes in the top of the third when Nuñez walked on four pitches and Martinez reached base by just beating out a check-swing infield single to second. De Jesus would fly out to right to strand two more runners.
The third inning began with Gregory getting Joshua Day to ground out to third and breaking his bat in the process. Jacen Roberson drew a walk and Wilderd Patiño singled to right to put two runners on. Ortiz drove Roberson home with a double down the left field line past a diving De Jesus to make it 1-0 Hillsboro. Valdez lifted a sacrifice fly to center to score Patiño for the Hops second run before Melendez banged a double off the center field fence to drive in Ortiz to up the Hillsboro advantage to three. Chen reached on an infield single to second to get Melendez to third but the diving stop by Turconi to his right prevented Melendez from scoring. Gregory would get out of the frame by whiffing Watkins on three pitches.
Michael Turconi opened the top of the fourth inning with a single to center on Barnes’ first pitch. Kasevich jumped on a 3-0 pitch to line a single to left and Ellison was grazed on the nose by a pitch to load the bases after Garrett Spain was caught looking at strike three. Ellison was okay but he, Turconi and Kasevich were left stranded when Alan Roden fouled out to third and Brown popped out to second.
Eric Pardinho relieved Gregory in the booth of the fourth and struck out Ramses Malave swinging on three pitches and needed just 10 pitches to complete a scoreless frame.
Hillsboro went to the bullpen again with Peñiel Otaño working the bottom of the fifth. After Nuñez flew out to the warning track in center, Martinez got another infield single to second with one out and De Jesus came up with a single to left past a diving Chen at short. Turconi struck out swinging but Kasevich. A passed ball by Malave moved the runners up before Kasevich drew a four-pitch free pass to fill the bags. Otaño then committed a balk by motioning he was going to pitch but holding up before deciding to follow through, allowing Martinez to trot home with the C’s first run. Otaño then struck out Spain swinging to end the inning.
Pardinho had a new batterymate in the fifth when Jommer Hernández replaced Eillson behind the plate. After striking Patiño looking for the first out of the bottom of the fifth, Pardinho got some help from Turconi who made a nice play to range well to his right just past the second base bag to throw out Ortiz. Nuñez was able to dig out the throw at first to complete the second out. Valdez singled to left to keep the Hops going but Melendez hit into a 5-4 fielder’s choice for out number three.
Hernández singled to the opposite field in right to start the fifth against Patiño. A high chopper to second by Roden and a ground out by Brown moved Hernández to third before Nuñez ripped a two-out single to center to score the C’s catcher and make it a one-run game. Martinez struck out swinging for the third out.
Lefthander Cooper Benson was brought into the game for Vancouver in the top of the sixth and retired the side in order with just 10 pitches.
The Hops also went with a lefty for the top of the seventh in Dillon Larsen and he walked De Jesus with his first four pitches. Turconi also heard ball four to put the first two Vancouver runners aboard. On the next pitch, Kasevich went to the opposite field for a single past a diving Melendez at first to score De Jesus and, surprisingly, Turconi all the way from the first to put the C’s in front 4-3.
A wild pitch put Kasevich at second but Larsen struck out Spain and retired Hernández on a fly ball to right. Gerald Ogando took over for Larsen and walked Roden with four straight wide ones before getting Brown to fly out to right.
Hillsboro looked to get back on track against Benson in the bottom of the seventh. After taking care of Day on a tapper back to the mound and running to the first bag to make the unassisted putout, Roberson drew a walk but Benson got Patiño to pop out to second on the next pitch. However, an Ortiz single to center and a Valdez base on balls on four consecutive balls filled the pillows. Vancouver manager Brent Lavallee made the call to the bullpen to get Justin Kelly and the righthander from Utah needed just two pitches to retire Melendez with a routine fly out to center.
Ogando retired the Canadians with a 1-2-3 top of the eighth and Kelly responded with a perfect frame of his own, using four of his eight pitches to strike out Chen swinging on a foul tip to begin the inning.
Turconi started the ninth with a ground-rule double to left near the left field corner of Ogando. Kasevich moved Turconi to third with a ground out to second. With the Hops infield in, Spain was able to bounce a ball past Day at second to score Turconi with an insurance run.
Ogando fanned Hernández and induced a tapper back to the mound to send the game to the bottom of the ninth.
Lefthander Mason Fluharty took over for Kelly and struck out Day swinging on three pitches but walked Roberson on a 3-2 pitch. Patiño forced out Roberson on a 5-4 fielder’s choice and Ortiz grounded out too short to end the game. Fluharty got his first save with Benson getting the win to improve his record to 2-0.
Hernández was shaken up after Roberson fouled the ball off the inside of his right leg. With Ellison already out of the game, Hernández was able to remain in the game.
The Canadians won this one despite going 3-for-17 with runners in scoring position and leaving 14 men on base. With the C’s winning five out of six in Hillsboro, they pull back to an even .500 on the road after a disastrous series in Everett and improve to 14-9 on the season.
Monty’s Mounties return home to Nat Bailey Stadium to face the AquaSox and look for revenge in a six-game series starting on Tuesday. The first pitch is at 7:05 on CanadiansBaseball.com and MiLB.TV. Tyler Zickel will have the call.