They say you can't go home again, and for the Vancouver Canadians, that was too true on Tuesday, May 11.
Playing their home opener against the Spokane Indians, the Canadians traded leads with the visitors before falling in the 10th inning, 4-3.
The Canadians' home crowd was a fraction of its usual size. The team routinely draws crowds of upward of 6,000 at Nat Bailey Stadium in Vancouver, British Columbia. But instead, the Canadians are temporarily calling Ron Tonkin Field in Hillsboro home, because of travel issues between the United States and Canada.
Announced attendance Tuesday was 254. That's less than half the 825 maximum capacity currently being allowed at Ron Tonkin Field due to COVID-19 restrictions.
But the crowd, despite its small size, was enthusiastic in attempting to will the Canadians across the finish line late.
Spokane proved more adept at using the automatic baserunner rule to its advantage. Back-to-back productive outs plated third baseman Aaron Schunk, who was placed on second base to begin the 10th inning after popping out to end the Indians' scoring opportunities in regulation play. Center fielder Brenton Doyle bunted Schunk over to third base, and Schunk scored on first baseman Michael Toglia's lineout to center field.
Vancouver center fielder Cameron Eden also opened the bottom of the 10th with a good sacrifice bunt to advance the Canadians' automatic runner, second baseman Tanner Morris, but first baseman Spencer Horwitz was unable to plate him as he grounded out to shortstop, and after reliever Trent Fennell walked Vancouver catcher Philip Clarke, shortstop Luis De Los Santos flied out to deep right field to end the ballgame.
The Indians struck first early in the game, when Toglia hit his first sacrifice fly of the game in the first inning and shortstop Jack Blomgren doubled in a second run in the second inning.
Left fielder Tanner Kirwer answered for the Canadians as he blasted a low line drive just over the left field wall to lead off the third inning.
Vancouver took the lead in the sixth inning, with De Los Santos tying it up with an RBI single and third baseman L.J. Talley driving in Clarke with an RBI groundout.
But the home team's lead was short-lived. In the seventh inning, after a throwing error by Clarke allowed Indians second baseman Eddy Díaz to go from first to third on a stolen base attempt, Schunk hit a sacrifice fly to plate Díaz.
The Canadians had a chance to walk off in the bottom of the ninth inning, after reliever Shelby Lackey gave up a walk to designated hitter Davis Schneider and then a single to Kirwer, but Morris struck out to end the threat.
The Canadians fall to 3-4 with the loss, after splitting their opening series on the road with the Tri-City Dust Devils. They'll look to get back even as they take on the Indians again at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday, May 12.
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