The Nat Bailey Stadium crowd Saturday night was so loud, so raucous that it seemed much larger than the announced sellout of 6,413.
The Nat Bailey faithful roared with appreciation as the Vancouver Canadians claimed the Northwest League title on their home turf, trouncing the Everett AquaSox 10-2 to capture the best-of-five finale in four games.
It’s the fifth championship since 2011 for the C’s, who are a Toronto Blue Jays affiliate. It’s the first one since the club was promoted two levels to high-A as part of the minor leagues being revamped before the 2021 season campaign. They were playing short-season single-A before that.
“The atmosphere is second to none,” C’s manager Brent Lavallee said of the Nat, a ballpark he knew well before the Blue Jays slotted him here last summer since he’s a North Delta native. “Maybe Toronto. That’s probably the only other place.
“Tonight Vancouver is a baseball town.”
The C’s had the crowd jumping, especially in the fourth inning, thanks to putting up five runs in the frame against the Seattle Mariners’ farmhands who make up the AquaSox. Cade Doughty had a two-run double to left field to help key the attack.
Things got especially loud again in the seventh, when Nick Goodwin smacked a two-run homer to left centre field, making it 10-2.
Everett scattered six hits against four Vancouver pitchers while striking out nine times and walking twice. Starter Ryan Jennings gave the C’s a strong foothold, not allowing a hit in his three innings to go along with five strikeouts and one walk.
Jennings, who was injured part of the year, was making just his fourth appearance with the C’s. Goodwin only played five regular season games with Vancouver after getting promoted from the single-A Dunedin Blue Jays on Sept. 4.
That was standard operating procedure for the C’s all season, with the spotlight shifting from player to player.
“With this group and the work and commitment to just doing their jobs … it made it all possible,” said Lavallee. “These guys are winners. They showed it in the college careers or their young pro careers. We just inherited a good group here and we had a clear mission and we took care of it.”
Vancouver qualified for the playoffs in the six-team loop thanks to winning the first half pennant. Everett won the second. The C’s (77-54) had the best combined record, three and a half games better than Everett (74-58). Vancouver did stumble down the stretch, losing 12 off their 18, but Lavallee never wavered. He spoke adamantly going into the playoffs about his team being ready.
“We just had clear expectations and the work…there’s no faking the work,” Lavallee said.
Vancouver was swept in last year’s Northwest League final by the Eugene Emeralds, who are a San Francisco Giants farm team.
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