Rafael Lantigua Homers, Vancouver Canadians Over Hops 8-6
Rafael Lantigua took the very first pitch of the ball game and sent it into the Canadians’ bullpen. From there, the Vancouver Canadians paid the Hillsboro Hops back for their two losses to start the series, 8-6.
Rafael Lantigua Turns Tide
It was a bad omen for the Hops. The first two games of the series were blow-outs by the Hops. The combined scores totaled 19-6. Lantigua’s statement homer felt like karma coming back to bite the Hops. Turns out, that’s exactly what it was.
But first, the Hops made a statement of their own. In the third inning Hillsboro sent eight men to the plate and scored two runs to take the lead for themselves. The problem? The Hops didn’t have enough to back it up. And their comeback attempt in the ninth fell short.
Vancouver scored three runs in the fourth and fifth innings… each. The 2-1 deficit meant very little to the visitors. Spencer Horwitz led off with a double in the fourth. Four walks and a single followed. All nine Canadians batted in the inning.
The fifth inning only featured seven Vancouver batters. And, all of their damage was done with two outs already in the books. With Will Robertson and Davis Schneider on base, Phil Clarke and Andres Guerra teamed up for back to back doubles.
Rafael Lantigua Adds Final Run
They now led 7-1 and it looked like the Canadians were going to do to the Hops what the Hops had done to them. They even added another run in the eighth off Orelvis Martinez’ RBI single, scoring Lantigua for his second run of the night.
Hops Come Back
That last run making it 8-1, might have been the motivation the Hops needed. In the bottom of the inning, the Hops sent seven men to the plate and scored three runs of their own. Tristin English led off with a walk. Singles by AJ Vukovich and Cam Coursey loaded the bases. Nick Dalesandro, who went 3 for 4 on the night, doubled two of them home. Newcomer Elijah Greene brought Coursey home with his ground out for his first RBI in a Hops uniform.
Heading into the ninth, the score read 8-5. A much smaller deficit to erase. Quickly, Ronny Simon doubled Jorge Barrosa home with an RBI double. Tristin English singled to put runners at the corners with only one out. The tying run now at first base and Vukovich at the plate representing a walk off winning run.
Someone might expect a storybook ending. What really happened? Second baseman Tanner Morris scooped up a grounder, stepped on second base and threw to first for the game ending double play. Poof. Game over.
Short Term Quality Start for Vancouver
CJ Van Eyk started the game for the Canadians and couldn’t have done much better. In two innings, he struck out three batters and faced the minimum six Hops on only 19 pitches. But, when the third inning started, Andrew Bash (W, 2-0) stepped to the mound in relief. There has been no word so far as to the reason.
But, in the end, it didn’t matter. After that, Bash took the next three innings and earned the win. Hagen Danner, Roither Hernandez and Gabriel Ponce (S, 1) ran into a bit of trouble but finished the game.
Short Term Troubling Start for Hillsboro
Firstly, Collin Sullivan (L, 0-2) started for the Hops and was relieved after three innings and four runs. Secondly, Josh McMinn took over and was relieved after 1.2 innings and three runs. However, Kai-Wei Lin, Kyler Stout and Mailon Arroyo settled things down and only allowed one more run for the Canadians.
The win steadied the Vancouver Canadians (45-54) behind Spokane who also won tonight. As a result, they are eight and a half games behind the Indians. But, Eugene lost and is only three games ahead of Spokane. However, the most satisfying part of the standings is flipping places with the Hops and taking back fourth place.
Meanwhile, the loss dropped the Hillsboro Hops (44-54) one game closer to Tri City who won tonight. So, only four and a half games separate the two teams now.
Further, both teams meet again Friday night for game#4. In addition, Ron Tonkin Field will also have Friday Night Fireworks. However, if you can’t make the game, you can watch it on MiLB.tv, listen on 620 AM radio or follow me on Twitter for half inning updates. Consequently, you will find my Twitter handle below.