The Boise Hawks were four outs away from a title, but the Vancouver Canadians (Blue Jays) scored seven times after two were out in the eighth inning to defeat Boise, 12-9 and to win their second consecutive Northwest League title, two games to one.
Both teams sent their aces to the mound tonight, with the Hawks Tayler Scott facing off against the Canadians Taylor Cole. Neither one made it out of the fourth inning. Scott allowed two runs in the top of the first, but the Hawks came roaring back with four in the bottom of the inning, punctuated by a three-run bomb to deep center field by DH Dan Vogelbach.
Both teams scored three runs in the fourth inning, chasing both starters. Scott exited for Michael Heesch after throwing 3.2 innings, allowing five runs on ten hits. Scott walked two and didn't strike out anyone.
The Hawks retook the lead with three runs in the bottom of the fourth. The inning started when Trey Martin doubled and Gioskar Amaya singled him home. After a Marco Hernandez struck out, the Hawks tacked on two more runs with two-out singles by Stephen Bruno, Dan Vogelbach and Jeimer Candelario.
The score stayed 7-5 into through seven innings because the Chicagoan Heesch was lights out for 3.1 innings. He allowed only one baserunner, a two-out single in the sixth. Heesch struck out four.
Then in a move that's going to be second-guessed, Heesch exited after the seventh inning for Tyler Bremer. Heesch had been dominating, but he had also previously never pitched more than two innings in any appearance this season. After Bremer got the first batter with a ground out, he walked the next two.
Bremer was relieved by Eddie Orozco at that point. The first batter hit a high hopper to third baseman Candelario that should have been at least one out and might have been an inning-ending double play. But Candelario juggled the ball and the bases ended up loaded with still only one out.
It still looked like the Hawks were going to get out of the inning when Orozco struck out the next batter, but after that, the wheels came off, much as they had done in Thursday night's game in Vancouver. After a hit batter and two singles, the bases were emptied by a triple and a throwing error. Seven runs had scored and the Canadians had a 12-7 lead.
Boise would score a single run in both the eighth and the ninth innings as Vancouver traded a run for outs both innings. The highlight of the final two innings was the Boise debut of Juan Paniagua who faced two batters and struck them both out with a combination of an mid-to-upper 90s fastball and a sharp breaking curve.
Orozco took the loss after allowing five unearned runs on three hits and a hit batter. The strike out was the only out he recorded.
DH Vogelbach was 2 for 4 with a home run and four RBI. Right fielder Bruno went 2 for 4 with a double and a walk. He scored three runs and had one RBI. Shortstop Marco Hernandez went 2 for 4 with a walk and a run scored.
Second baseman Gioskar Amaya was 2 for 6 with two runs scored and one RBI. Third baseman Candelario was 2 for 5 with two RBI. First baseman Rock Shoulders was 2 for 5
A day after he exited after crashing into the wall, center fielder Albert Almora was cleared to play. He went 1 for 4 with a walk.
This ends the Cubs minor league season. I want to thank all of you who have been reading and all of you who have commented. I'll be back later this week with a vote for the Cubs Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year. I'll also do some updates from the Arizona Fall League, although my personal preference is that they wouldn't keep stats in that league. But I'll be back next year with coverage of all the Cubs minors from . . .well, we know Iowa and Tennessee are going to be back in the Cubs system next year.
I also want to thank the broadcast teams from all five of the Cubs minor league affiliates, without whom I couldn't do my job properly. You're all the best and we're lucky to have you.
Good night and we'll get them next year.