The Vancouver Canadians' goal is to have two teams celebrate division championships during the same series. On Sunday, they extended their pursuit of a Northwest League North Division first half title for at least a few hours.
McGregory Contreras hit a go-ahead two-run double in the bottom of the sixth inning and saved a run with a diving catch in left field in the seventh as the Vancouver Canadians (19-18) defeated the Hillsboro Hops 5-3 Sunday afternoon in front of a sell-out crowd of 6,413 at Nat Bailey Stadium.
Alas, it takes two to dance this particular tango and the C's had to wait on the the final of Everett's game at Boise, needing a win from the homestanding Hawks to keep alive their pennant hopes. It was not to be as the AquaSox nailed down the league's other automatic playoff bid with a victory at Memorial Stadium.
Randy Pondler (1-4) allowed six hits and three runs over six innings to pick up his first win of the year for Vancouver. Lefthander Nick Allgeyer carded his first pro save with a 1-2-3 ninth inning, fanning two batters.
The Canadians took the first lead in a back-and-forth affair on a Nick Podkul home run to left in the first inning. Ryan Tufts hit his third homer of the year for the Hops, just clearing the fence in the left field corner out of Contreras' reach and off the foul pole to even the score in the third.
Tufts gave Hillsboro (23-14) the lead with an RBI single to left, plating Francis Martinez in the fifth inning, but Vancouver pulled even in the bottom of the frame on an RBI groundout by Yorman Rodriguez, who had earlier extended his NWL-leading hit streak to 15 games with a first-inning single. Rodriguez has hit in 17 straight games overall including his final two games in the Gulf Coast league before promotion.
In the sixth, the Hops jumped back in front on Martinez's third hit of the day, a double halfway up the wall in right that scored Jose Caballero. But Vancouver got to reliever West Tunnell (0-1) for three hits and two runs in the bottom of the inning and added a meaningless insurance run in the ninth off Wesley Rodriguez.
Martinez went 3-for-4 with two doubles, all three hits batting righthanded. The 6-4, 250 pound third-year first baseman was just 2-for-22 on the season batting righthanded going into the game.
Vancouver got production up and down the order with all nine contributing a hit and eight of the nine either scoring or driving in a run.
The series wraps up at 7:05 p.m. Monday night with the pregame show beginning at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Northwest Rip City Radio 620AM and ripcityradio.com. The Hops return to Hillsboro for a three-game series against Boise starting Tuesday night and will welcome the Canadians to town a week from Wednesday for a five-game series before the All-Star break.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.