The smoke moved out, but Connor Panas and the Vancouver Canadians caught fire.
Panas hit two solo homers and capped a seven-run first-inning with a two-run double Saturday as the Canadians manhandled the Spokane Indians 11-3 at Avista Stadium.
One day after the teams postponed the second game of the three-game series because of hazardous air conditions from Washington’s multiple wildfires, the Canadians found a quick spark against Indians starter Nick Green (0-2).
Green allowed six of the seven batters he faced to reach base. His final line: four hits, two walks and six earned runs in one-third of an inning.
Vancouver sent 12 batters to the plate against Green and Blake Bass in the first. Three Indians errors didn’t help the cause.
“It was just a really bad first inning,” Indians manager Tim Hulett said. “We didn’t pitch it very well and we didn’t catch it very well when it got hit. We put ourselves behind the 8-ball. You put up seven runs in the first inning, it makes it really tough. It takes the wind out of your sails. Even though you try to do everything you can to convince them, ‘Hey, there’s a lot of game left,’ it’s a tough comeback.”
“Being on the other side of it, you have to build off of it,” said Panas, who hit his first two homers in the Northwest League. “You can’t ease up on the gas pedal. You just have to keep on going.”
Panas, of Toronto, was drafted in June by his hometown Blue Jays in the ninth round out of Canisius College in Buffalo, New York. He hit one homer in the Gulf Coast League before being assigned to Vancouver on July 1. Entering Saturday, he was hitting .200 with nine RBIs in 30 games.
Panas opened the third inning with a homer to left-center for a 9-0 lead. He also gave the Canadians their final run with a massive, two-out solo homer over the scoreboard in right-center in the seventh.
“It’s a great experience so far,” Panas said. “I’m loving it out here. It’s my first time being on the West Coast and it’s a great atmosphere for baseball. I’m just really enjoying the experience so hopefully we can keep on winning and make a run to the playoffs.”
Canadians starter Tayler Saucedo (3-1), who also defeated Spokane on Aug. 7, allowed three singles and no earned runs in six innings, striking out seven and walking none.
Indians shortstop Yeyson Yrizarri extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a two-out, two-run double in the eighth.
Vancouver improved to 12-11 for the second half of the season and trails North Division-leading Everett by 1½ games. The Indians (10-13) lost their third consecutive game.
“We play so many games, I think they’ll be fine,” Hulett said. “They’ll come back and be ready to play tomorrow.”
The Indians will begin a five-game series tonight at Eugene, the final regular-season games they’ll play against the South Division. Spokane is 19-16 against the South.
Spokane will return home Friday for four games against Vancouver, starting with a doubleheader at 5 p.m. Friday.
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