Fuenmayor puts Canadians on brink

Jays farmhand delivers go-ahead hit in NWL Finals opener

By Ashley Marshall / Special to MLB.com | September 6, 2012 11:52 PM ET

Balbino Fuenmayor has been here before.

Not just here in the Northwest League Finals, but here, against this particular pitcher in a key spot in an important game.

He's getting pretty good at this kind of thing.

Fuenmayor snapped a seventh-inning tie with a two-out, two-run single Thursday as the Vancouver Canadians rallied past the visiting Boise Hawks, 10-7, in Game 1 of the best-of-3 Championship Series.

Vancouver scored twice in the sixth before erupting in the seventh, sending 11 batters to the plate and igniting the crowd of 3,845 at Nat Bailey Stadium.

It's not the first clutch hit the 22-year-old Venezuela native has recorded against Hawks reliever Rafael Diplan.

The last time they met, on Aug. 24 in Vancouver, Fuenmayor slugged a go-ahead homer off the right-hander. It helped snap a three-game losing streak as the Canadians went on to win six of their final eight games to clinch the West Division second-half title.

Fuenmayor victimized Diplan again Thursday, this time with the stakes were even higher.

After singling and scoring to lead off the seventh, he came up again with the bases loaded. The Hawks called on Diplan, but the 235-pound first baseman prevailed, pulling a two-run single to left field to give the Canadians a 9-7 lead.

Fuenmayor batted .282 with nine homers and 52 RBIs in 67 games during the regular season. Signed by the Blue Jays as a non-drafted free agent in 2006, he spent two years in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and two with Class A Lansing.

Last season, he split time between Vancouver and Lansing, winning a Northwest League championship with the Canadians. He drove in eight runs in the playoffs, including three in the Finals against Tri-City.

On Thursday, Christian Lopes went 3-for-5 and Jorge Flores reached base three times and plated two runs for the winners.

Boise's Marco Hernandez was 3-for-5 with two RBIs and two runs scored, Dan Vogelbach plated a pair of runs out of the cleanup spot and Jeimer Candelario collected two hits and an RBI.

The series shifts to Boise, where the Canadians will try to become the first repeat champions since Salem-Keizer in 2006-07.

Ashley Marshall is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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