Vancouver Canadians Win in Walk-Off Fashion Over Hillsboro Hops
The Vancouver Canadians struggled most of the night but couldn’t be turned away as they came from behind to beat the Hillsboro Hops in the bottom of the ninth. The Canadians never led until the end of the game.
The Hillsboro Hops started the scoring when they exploded in the top of the fourth and desperately tried to hang on to the shrinking lead through the rest of the game. The action started inauspiciously when Stephen Dezzi twisted to avoid a pitch striking him in the back. He took his lumps and first base. Nate Robertson followed with a sacrifice bunt that pitcher Daniel Lietz threw away, letting runners reach the corners. Nate Irving singled to right field scoring Dezzi from third and moving Robertson to second.
Sergio Alcantara smashed a double to left fielder Austin Davis that brought Nate Robertson home and Nate Irving headed to third. Zach Nehrir continued the hot inning, slicing a grounder into center field for a single. Irving scored the third run of the inning. Alcantara tried to add to the damage but center fielder Earl (the) Burl III fired a pinpoint throw home and catcher Kevin Garcia tagged Alcantara out at the plate. Hops led 3-0.
It would be the only runs scored by the Hops in the night.
The Canadians started whittling on the lead in the bottom of that very inning. Jefferson Thomas homered to left, curving at the pole and staying fair. That cut the Hops lead to 3-1.
In the bottom of the sixth, Juan Kelly hit a hard chopper to second baseman Fernery Ozuna that bounced off of his glove and scooted into foul territory. The umpires ruled it a double as Kelly ended at second while the Hops gathered the errant ball. A balk by Cameron Gann sent Kelly over to third. Manager Shelley Duncan came out to argue the call to no avail. Kevin Garcia grounded out to shortstop Sergio Alcantara for the second out of the inning but still earned an RBI when Kelly scored on the play. The Hops lead was cut to 3-2.
The bottom of the ninth brought the Hops closer Ariel Hernandez to the mound, who has been nicknamed “Feugo” for the heat he brings to the plate with each outing. His pitches clocked at 99 mph several times in the inning, with one clocking at a tremendous 100-mph; quite a heater for a single-A pitcher. The Canadians were not daunted.
Austin Davis singled to left to put the tying run on base. Ryan Metzler laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt down the first base line. Hernandez launched off the mound to grab the dribbling ball and attempted to tag the runner. His effort missed. When he turned to throw it to the waiting first baseman Trevor Mitsui, he threw it into right field. Davis moved to third and Metzler reached first safely. There were no outs and the winning run was at first.
Pinch hitter Gabriel Cenas came to the plate for James Lynch. Hernandez sent a wild pitch to the backstop. Catcher Nate Irving scrambled back for the ball and threw it to Hernandez covering home plate but the throw was too late. Davis scored and the game was tied. Ryan Metzler moved to second. Burl came to the plate next and watched as another wild pitch by Hernandez squirted to the backstop while Metzler quickly took third. Hernandez remained poised following his second wild pitch of the inning, striking out both Cenas and Burl.
That brought JC Cardenas to the plate. On a 2-2 count, he hit a sharp single down the right field line and Ryan Metzler easily came home for the winning run. The Canadians held a well-deserved celebration on the field.
The starting pitcher for the Hops was Jeferson Mejia, who pitched four nice innings allowing one run, four hits, one walk and eight strike outs. Ariel Hernandez (1-1) took the loss.
Daniel Leitz was the starting pitcher for the Canadians, who pitched four innings of six-hit, two-run ball with a walk and a strike out. It was Conor Fiske (1-0) who earned the win. Fiske pitched the last five innings of sparkling relief with no runs, two hits, one walk and six strike outs.
The Hillsboro Hops (5-5) and Vancouver Canadians (5-5) will continue with the third game of the five-game series tomorrow night at Nat Bailey Stadium in Vancouver, British Columbia. The Canadians have won the first two.
By Greg Stoker