Canadians win 'Battle for the Boro,' take series 4-2 over Hops
In what the two teams billed on social media as the #BattleForTheBoro, the Vancouver Canadians emerged triumphant over a six-game series against the Hillsboro Hops, winning the rubber game Sunday, May 23.
The Hops and Canadians are sharing Ron Tonkin Field this year, as the Canadians are unable to play at home in Vancouver, British Columbia, due to COVID-19-related travel restrictions. In this series — the first of four scheduled between the teams this season — the Hops played as the "home team," and unsurprisingly, among the announced crowd of 1,163 spectators at the game, Hillsboro's home faithful outnumbered fans of the Canadians at the ballpark.
The Canadians took the first three games of the series, but the Hops bounced back to win Friday, May 21, and Saturday, May 22. But on Sunday, it was Vancouver's day, as starting pitcher Paxton Schultz led the Canadians to a 5-4 win.
Hillsboro starter Drey Jameson, a 2019 first-round draft pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks, cruised through four perfect innings, but Schultz worked around a couple of baserunners in that span without giving up any runs, either, and the Canadians finally got to Jameson in the fifth.
First baseman Spencer Horwitz led off the fifth inning with a well-struck groundball into right field for Vancouver's first hit. Horwitz advanced to second base on a wild pitch and came around to score on shortstop Luis De Los Santos' single to center. De Los Santos scored after a double and a sacrifice fly by second baseman Ronny Brito, whom base umpire Kevin Mandzuk ruled had held up on a checked swing that would have struck him out earlier in the at-bat. Hillsboro manager Vince Harrison argued the call to no avail.
The Canadians tacked on one more when Hops center fielder Eduardo Díaz couldn't cleanly haul in a shallow pop fly in the seventh inning, allowing Horwitz to score another run.
The Hops closed their deficit back to two runs in the bottom of the seventh, after shortstop Blaze Alexander drilled a double high off the outfield wall and was sent home on a line drive single to center by left fielder Reese Hampton.
But the frustration continued for Hillsboro in the eighth inning.
Mandzuk ruled that Canadians center fielder Cameron Eden was safe on an attempt to steal third — a questionable call that had Hops fans booing and Harrison irate. Nathan Diederich, the home plate umpire, ejected Hops catcher Nick Dalesandro for his contribution to the conversation, forcing Harrison to bring in a new catcher: Andy Yerzy, who jogged in from the bullpen still wearing his chest protector.
Eden immediately came home on a wild pitch by Kai-Wei Lin that hit the dirt at Yerzy's feet and deflected away, and Horwitz scored his third run on the game on another error by the center fielder Díaz, who misplayed a high bounce off the turf on a single to center field.
The Hops rallied in the ninth against Canadians right-hander Will McAffer, who loaded the bases with one out and then watched Alexander sprint home on a wild pitch. Vancouver went back to the bullpen for reliever Parker Caracci, who got Yerzy to pop out, then gave up a two-run single to right fielder Leodany Pérez to trim the lead to just one run, before second baseman Alexander Hernández popped out to end the game.
The Hops fall to 7-11 with the loss. The last champions in the Northwest League in 2019 — before the minor league baseball season was canceled by the pandemic in 2020 and then the minor leagues were reorganized this past winter — Hillsboro has struggled somewhat in High-A West, a higher level of competition than the old Class-A Short Season level. But the promotion also means the Hops have more time to right the ship, with 102 games left to play.
The Canadians improve to 12-6 and have now won three straight series. They'll look to keep their winning ways alive as they now host the Everett AquaSox this week. That series starts at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday, May 25, at Ron Tonkin Field.
By Mark Miller
Editor-in-Chief, Washington and Columbia counties
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