Ems’ Fall 4-0 in Extras
Vancouver Canadian’s coach Clayton McCullough pulled a trick out of his sleeve in the bottom of the ninth inning to keep the Emeralds from being walk-off winners Sunday afternoon at PK Park.
The Canadians completed the sweep of the Ems after a 4-0 win in 11 innings, but had it not been for McCullough’s defensive shift in the ninth, Ems fans would have been celebrating an Alexi Colon walk-off single.
With one out and the bases loaded in a scoreless game, McCullough called for a five-infielder, two-outfielder shift as reliever Jonathan Lucas faced the left-handed hitting Colon with the game on the line. Colon hit a groundball right at the extra infielder, who was positioned between the first and second basemen, for a fielder’s choice at home.
With two outs and the bases still loaded, third basemen Chris Burke struck out looking on a slider, and the game went to extras.
“Credit to their guys,” said Em’s Coach Pat Murphy. “That’s the obvious play to do in that situation on the road and they executed.”
After both teams failed to get a hit in the 10th, the Canadians finally got on the scoreboard in the top of the 11th against reliever Matthew Shepherd. Third-place hitter Matt Newman singled to lead off the inning and was bunted over by shortstop Jorge Flores. Designated hitter Art Charles was intentionally walked to bring up third basemen Kellen Sweeney.
Shepherd fell behind 3-1 before plating a fastball that the left-handed Sweeney roped down the right field line for a bases clearing triple. First basemen Balbino Fuenmayor followed with a two-run home run to extend the lead to 4-0.
The Ems spoiled a brilliant performance from starter Justin Hancock who went 5 and 1/3 innings, allowing just one hit and striking out seven.
“He threw well,” said Murphy. “We wish he could’ve kept going, but he had the same pitch count their kid did so we had to go super-deep into our bullpen.”
Ems relievers combined to throw 4 and 2/3 innings of shutout ball before Shepherd allowed four in the eleventh. The Canadians had a chance in the top of the third when catcher Dan Klein walked, stole second and found himself on third with one out after a wild pitch. However, leadoff man Ian Parmley popped up a suicide squeeze attempt to Hancock who easily doubled off the running Klein at third.
Canadian’s pitcher Taylor Cole was not to be outdone by the sterling Hancock, throwing five innings of two-hit baseball while striking out four. Jonathan Lucas got the win in relief.
Cole didn’t allow a hit until the bottom of the fourth when Em’s catcher Rodney Daal reached on a bunt single and advanced to second on a throwing error by Sweeney. They could not capitalize, though, and failed to advance a runner past second base until the bottom of the ninth.
The Ems looked poised to avoid the sweep in the ninth after they loaded the bases thanks back-to back hits by Maxx Tissenbaum and Rodney Daal, a sacrifice bunt and an intentional walk. But thanks to the timely shift by Coach McCullough and Lucas’s strikeout of Burke, the Canadians escaped the jam, and prevailed in extras.
“That’s a hot team; they’ve won six in arrow,” said Murphy. “You have to play well against them. You’re going through your sputtering time and there hot.”
The Ems will head to Yakima for a five-game series starting Monday. Murphy and the Ems will have the five-hour bus ride to clear their heads in hopes of turning things around.
“We had opportunities to win the game, but we didn’t,” said Murphy. “They did everything right this weekend and we had chances in all three games but didn’t execute.”
The Ems fall to three games back of the Canadians in the second-half standings with a record of 6-7. Vancouver leads the West division with a record of 9-4.
“Credit goes to them,” said Murphy. “We’re still in the hunt, so we just got to keep rolling.”