September 10, 2012
They’ve done it! On Sunday night, the Vancouver Canadians won their second straight Northwest League Championships! After an exciting and unforgettable three-game battle against the Boise Hawks, the Canadians were able to come out on top and raising the banner to announce their dominance in the northwest.
After Vancouver won the first game of the three game series in dramatic fashion by scoring seven runs in the 7th inning, they repeated that incredible comeback feat once again on Sunday to edge out the Hawks in the winner-takes-all battle. Down by two runs in the eighth inning, the C’s exploded for seven more and grabbed the trophy away from the Hawks.
The Canadians had a chance to close out the series and sweep Boise on Saturday, however, Boise did everything in its power to survive and live another day. In Game Two, the C’s grabbed a 2-1 lead in the top of the eighth inning. However, with four outs left in the game for the Hawks, their star player Stephan Bruno doubled to center field, scoring Darien Martin. And it was all Hawks in the ninth inning. After loading the bases with no outs, Hawks’ Willson Contreras provided the walk-off hit to score Jeimer Candelario, and setting up the stage for Sunday’s championship game.
Unlike game two, the finale was filled with runs, right off the bat. After the C’s jumped ahead for a 2-0 lead in the first inning, then the Hawks’ batters pounced on C’s ace, Taylor Cole for four runs in the bottom half. The score remained the same until both team traded three run innings in the 4th, capped off by a Jorge Flores 2-run double. Heading into the eighth inning with four more outs between them and the end of the season, the C’s offence exploded. It was Flores again who initiated the scoring, this time without swinging the bat. With the bases loaded, Hawks pitcher Tyler Bremer hit Flores, cutting the lead to just one. And in an eerily fashion that resembled Game One, C’s offence just took off and did not look back. Kellen Sweeney was up next and like so many times in this past month, he put the C’s ahead with a two-run single. Balbino Fuenmayor followed suit, hitting a single of his own and scoring Flores, giving the C’s a 2-run lead. But they weren’t done. Next up was the C’s home run threat, Art Charles. But this time, instead of smashing the ball over the fence, Charles ended up with an inside the park homerun. The tall California native smashed a ball to deep right, bringing home Kellen Sweeney and Balbino Fuenmayor. And with an unexpected relay error by Hawks second baseman, Gioskar Amaya, Charles took that extra 90 feet and touched base at home, stunning the Hawks players and fans.
Give credit to the Hawks, they never gave up as they mustered one run in each the 8th and 9th inning. But C’s closer Arik Sukula bounced back from his outing the night before and shut the door to the Hawks season. When C’s first baseman Balbino Fuenmayor recorded the final out in the 9th by squeezing the ball thrown to him by shortstop Flores, the team jumped up in joy as they celebrated an amazing 2012 campaign.
Each person on the team played a significant role during this magical run. From the pitching side, it was the two aces, Javier Avendano and Taylor Cole that set the tone for the rest of the pitching staff. And the C’s relieve pitching also settled into a nice groove with the duo of Will Browning and Arik Sikula finishing off games. Not to the out done, the C’s batters also provided C’s manager Clayton McCullough a steady lineup in the final stretch of the season. With sluggers Balbino Fuenmayor and Art Charles anchoring the lineup in the middle, rising hitters such as Kellen Sweeney and Jorge Flores provided that extra punch by recording big hits in big moments.
Overall, after struggling for much of the first half of the season, the C’s finally settled into a groove and carried that momentum into the playoff. It might be way too early to whisper about a three-peat for next year, for now, let’s just enjoy the tremendous success this team and its players are having.
What a season this has been. Congratulations to the Vancouver Canadians for winning their second consecutive Northwest League Championships!