Little Brad has had the big hits during the first two games of Vancouver’s series with the Spokane Indians.
Northwest League doubles leader L.B. Dantzler keyed a two-run sixth inning Wednesday night with his 13th double to lead the Canadians to their second consecutive 2-0 win over the Indians at Avista Stadium.
The three-game series, which marks the start of the NWL’s second half, ends tonight. Spokane begins a five-game set at Boise on Friday.
Dantzler, nicknamed “Little Brad” because his father is called “Big Brad,” hit a solo homer during Tuesday’s 2-0 Vancouver victory. Wednesday’s double, off the base of the wall in right-center, moved Dickie Thon to third base, setting up Andy Fermin’s sacrifice fly and Mike Reeves’ RBI single.
“Our park in Vancouver is a graveyard, so that helps little bit,” Dantzler said of leading the league in two-base hits. “Balls in the gap go a little bit farther there.”
Dantzler ranks second in the NWL in slugging percentage (.526), fifth in total bases (61) and seventh in batting average (.310). The first baseman didn’t join the Canadians until their 13th game of the season, in Spokane, because he was waiting to get his passport after being drafted in the 14th round by Toronto.
The Floridian played two years at Manatee (Fla.) Junior College before transferring to South Carolina and helping the Gamecocks to second place at last year’s College World Series. South Carolina lost to North Carolina in Game 3 of a Super Regional this year.
Canadians starter Colton Turner (3-3) checked the Indians on four singles over six innings before Justin James and Matt Johnson (first save) completed the shutout. Vancouver lowered its league-leading team earned-run average to 2.94.
“They do a good job of throwing a lot of off-speed pitches when they’re behind in the count and they command the strike zone well with it,” Indians manager Tim Hulett said of the Canadians. “That’s an advanced skill to be able to hit off-speed pitches at this level.”
Spokane loaded the bases with two out in the third, but Kevin Torres grounded out to Justin Atkinson at third base. Atkinson also made a diving stop with two out in the sixth and threw out Evan Van Hoosier at first base by a step. Ryan Cordell was on second base when Atkinson kept Van Hoosier’s grounder from going into the outfield.
Spokane starter Alex Gonzalez worked three sharp inning to drop his ERA from 6.48 to 5.49. Gonzalez, Eric Brooks (1-1) and Keone Kela combined to strike out 11 Canadians. Vancouver struck out 15 times on Tuesday.
“You can’t fault the staff for giving up two runs a game,” Hulett said.
“We want to swing it a little better, but our pitching has been picking us up,” Dantzler said.
Relief pitcher Brett Anderson joined the Indians from the Arizona Rookie League. Spokane’s roster has changed significantly in the last few days as pitcher Alex De La Cruz and shortstop Alberto Triunfel were demoted to the AZL while pitchers Sam Wolff and Cody Ege were promoted to Class A Hickory (N.C.) of the South Atlantic League.