Canadians 10, AquaSox 2
After coming tantalizingly close to winning a title last season, the Vancouver Canadians were able to reclaim the Northwest League crown on Saturday night in manager Brent Lavallee's second season at the helm.
The Blue Jays' High-A affiliate won in convincing fashion, mounting an early lead on the Everett AquaSox before cruising to a 10-2 win in Game 4 of the series at Nat Bailey Stadium.
It was a long time coming for a franchise that won three straight titles from 2011-13, and again in 2017, but had come up short since.
"It feels amazing," said third baseman Cade Doughty, Toronto's 16th-ranked prospect, who played the entirety of his year for Vancouver. "I mean, we've worked so hard this year. Just to come out on top is a really special feeling with a great group of guys. It was a great season." Full story >>
Canadians 1, AquaSox 0
In the first game north of the border, Vancouver used a timely hit by a top prospect to take a 2-1 Northwest League Championship Series lead.
After five innings of scoreless baseball, the Canadians created some traffic on the bases with a single by Ryan McCarty, followed by Toronto’s No. 16 prospect Cade Doughty being hit by a pitch to put the go-ahead run at second. In front of a sellout crowd, Gabriel Martinez, the organization’s No. 27 prospect, crushed a ball off the left-center-field wall to give the club a 1-0 lead it wouldn’t relinquish. It was his fourth hit of the series.
Up until that point, starter Hunter Gregory worked around a few jams to keep the AquaSox off the scoresheet. Over his four innings of work, he struck out six and walked three while only allowing one hit. His six strikeouts matched his season high, which he achieved in his first start back in April.
While neither team boasted big offensive numbers, Everett in particular fell short in high-leverage situations. The AquaSox were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position -- in their two losses, they have combined to go hitless in 13 such situations.
One bright spot was top Mariners prospect Cole Young, who notched a two-hit game alongside designated hitter Blake Rambusch. Starter Brandon Schaeffer tossed four shutout innings with three strikeouts. He made five starts without allowing a run during the regular season. Box score
AquaSox 10, Canadians 0
In their final game of the season at Funko Field, the Everett AquaSox gave the home crowd one of their best performances of 2023.
The Mariners' High-A affiliate blanked Vancouver 10-0 on Wednesday -- their seventh shutout of the year -- to knot the Northwest League Finals at one game apiece in the best-of-5 series.
The AquaSox have one of the most talented teams in the circuit, but it wasn't their three MLB Pipeline Top 100 prospects who led the way offensively. It was the bottom of the order that came through, all in the first three innings.
Ben Ramirez put Everett up with a three-run homer in the first, and Blake Rambusch added a sacrifice fly in the second. But center fielder Victor Labrada truly broke the game open in the third with a grand slam -- his first homer of any kind this season -- to make it a double-digit lead.
Southpaw Raúl Alcantara dominated with eight strikeouts over five innings in his third scoreless start of the season. Part of the credit for the shutout goes to Labrada, who also shined on defense with a leaping catch at the wall in the fifth.
The rest of the series will shift to Vancouver, with Game 3 taking place on Friday at 10:05 p.m. ET. Box score
Canadians 3, AquaSox 0
Adam Macko ended his 2023 regular season with a flourish. The No. 23 Blue Jays prospect made sure his first postseason start kept the momentum going.
Macko carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning and combined with two relievers on a five-hit shutout as Vancouver captured Game 1 of the best-of-5 Northwest League Finals at Funko Field. The 22-year-old, who was selected by Seattle in the 2019 Draft and spent last year with Everett, surrendered one hit and four walks with five strikeouts during his 85-pitch effort.
Macko's performance was a continuation of excellence from the southpaw, who has surrendered one run on four hits while fanning 31 in 20 innings over his last four starts.
Ryan McCarty doubled twice and drove home the only run the Canadians needed during his three-hit night. Dasan Brown (TOR No. 30) and Jommer Hernandez added an RBI apiece for Vancouver.
Reid VanScoter yielded two runs, four hits and a walk with four strikeouts in six frames for Everett. Cole Young reached safely in three plate appearances for the AquaSox. MLB's No. 37 prospect singled twice and walked in his first postseason game.
Game 2 will take place in Everett on Wednesday at 10:05 p.m. PT. Box score