By Jonathan Raymond, MLB.com
Boise, ID (ISN) – The Vancouver Canadians topped Boise 12-9 Sunday to win second straight Northwest League Championship.
Suddenly, the Vancouver Canadians are making a habit of winning the Northwest League championship. Kellen Sweeney ignited a seven-run eighth inning with a two-run single and Art Charles capped it with a bases-loaded triple Sunday as Vancouver rallied for a 12-9 victory at Boise and its second straight title.
A year after hoisting the Freitas Trophy for the first time in team history, the Canadians became the first team to win back-to-back Northwest League championships since Salem-Keizer in 2006-07.
“I can’t put it into words. It’s one of those things where this team, all year long, have fought, they battled, they worked for it,” Vancouver manager Clayton McCullough said. “I’m so happy for the staff, the players and all the people in Vancouver who give us a great setup.
“Our guys came through. That’s a tremendous feeling. And hats off to Boise, they put up a heck of a fight for three good days, but I’m proud of the way our guys pulled it out.”
After winning the West Division first-half title and going 46-30 during the regular season, Vancouver swept Everett in the best-of-3 semifinals. In the Championship Series, the Canadians won the opener, 10-7, before the Hawks responded with a 3-2 victory on Saturday night.
In Sunday’s one-game showdown, Vancouver quickly fell behind, 4-2, then scored three times in the fourth to take the lead. Boise answered in the bottom of the inning and went ahead, 7-5.
In the eighth, Christian Lopes and Dwight Smith drew one-out walks before an error by third baseman Jeimer Candelario loaded the bases. Reliever Eduardo Orozco struck out D.J. Davis but plunked Jorge Flores to force in a run.
Sweeney followed with a line drive to left field to put the Canadians in front and Charles cleared the bases with a shot to right. And when second baseman Gioskar Amaya threw the ball away, Charles raced home to make it 12-7.
“It was intense the whole way. They came back and did a great job,” McCullough said. “But our guys have been there before, been down and knew how to come back. We strung at-bats together in that big inning — Kellen Sweeney, who had so many clutch hits, and Art Charles delivering the big blow.
“It’s important to see kids in a pressure situation like that come through. And we found out our guys were winners.”
Sweeney went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and Charles was 2-for-5, finishing with nine RBIs in five playoff games. Tucker Frawley contributed a two-run homer and Blue Jays’ No. 10 prospect D.J. Davis, was 3-for-5 with a run scored.
“This team was not gonna quit, was gonna fight the whole way,” McCullough said. “To see their faces, their jubilation running out of the dugout after that third out was made [in the ninth], celebrating together, you know it took so much from everyone we had.”
Dan Vogelbach, the Cubs’ No. 13 prospect, homered, singled and drove in four runs for the Hawks. Candelaria added two hits and two RBIs, while Amaya was 2-for-6 with two runs scored and an RBI.
Boise fell one win short of its seventh championship and first since 2004.