First-year professional Andrew Guillotte quickly learned about the Vancouver Canadians’ recent success in the Northwest League.
The center fielder provided a lift to Vancouver’s postseason hopes Thursday during a 6-3 victory over the Spokane Indians to open a three-game series at Avista Stadium.
Guillotte, who finished 3 for 5, scored the go-ahead run in the fifth inning and capped a three-run sixth with a two-out, two-run single.
Vancouver improved to 11-11 for the second half of the league season and pulled within one game of North Division-leading Everett with 16 games to play. Tri-City won the North’s first half and has clinched a playoff berth.
The Canadians have been postseason demons the past four seasons, winning the league championship from 2011-13 and losing the league championship series to Hillsboro last year after knocking out Spokane in the divisional series.
“Being with host parents, they’re fans of the club and they talk to us about it, but they know we get enough of it at the park,” said Guillotte, who was drafted in the 32nd round out of McNeese State (Louisiana) University in June. “They don’t force it on us. They’ll make their comments, but it’s never like, ‘You guys really need to push.’ They know and we know, so it’s a mutual understanding that we’re out there, we’re working and we’re trying to get the job done.”
Spokane dropped to 10-12 for the second half and is two games behind Everett.
Two major factors stung Spokane: grounding into four double plays – the most for the team since five against Tri-City on July 17 – and allowing the Canadians five two-out RBIs.
“You try to get something going, you get the leadoff guy on and then you hit into a double play,” Indians manager Tim Hulett said. “That lets all the air out of you. It takes the wind out of you a little bit. It was a tough night with guys on base early.”
Indians starter Joe Palumbo (3-3) worked four effective innings before finding trouble in the fifth. Guillotte’s two-out single put runners on first and second for Ryan Metzler, who tied the game at 1 with an RBI single to left field. Justin Atkinson followed with a two-run single to center.
“We didn’t do a good job putting away the innings,” Hulett said. “Joe breezed through four innings and then in the fifth inning he just lost it. He lost command of his fastball and got behind in counts. And then when he did get (the ball) over, it got hit.”
“We just made a couple of little adjustments,” Guillotte said. “We saw how (Palumbo) was pitching us, what he was using and everything, and so we just made those adjustments to better our at-bats.”
Vancouver jumped on reliever Kohsuke Tomita for a walk and three hits in the sixth. Guillotte’s two-run single to center chased Tomita and capped the Canadians’ scoring.
Indians shortstop Yeyson Yrizarri extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a first-inning single. Yrizarri finished 3 for 4 with a run and RBI, raising his batting average to .296. He scored on LeDarious Clark’s league-leading sixth triple in the fifth.
Metzler increased his hitting streak to 12.
Canadians manager John Schneider was ejected in the sixth for arguing a strike call against Juan Kelly. Kelly followed with an RBI infield single for a 4-2 lead.
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