Randy Pondler limited Eugene to two runs over five frames in his first Northwest League start.
The Vancouver Canadians could not get the bats going in the curtain raiser of the 2018 Northwest League season. The Eugene Emeralds used single runs in the first two innings to emerge with a 2-0 victory at P.K. Park Friday night.
The game was pretty much decided after the first inning. Tanner Kirwer began the game by reaching on an error by Em’s starter Faustino Carrera who mishandled the hot smash back to the mound. C’s broadcaster Rob Fai believed it should have been ruled a hit for the Sherwood Park, Alberta native. Kirwer would steal second and would get to third on a Sterling Guzman one-out single. Guzman’s fly ball could have been ruled an error as the ball clanked off the ball of right field Jonathan Sierra. With two outs, Guzman drew a throw to second as Kirwer took off for home but Kirwer was caught stealing on a 2-6-3-6-3-2 play. It appeared Kirwer may have been safe but the umpire believed otherwise.
The bottom of the first saw Eugene’s Fernado Kelli ground a single to right off C’s starter Randy Pondler before stealing second and advancing to third on a fly ball. Christopher Morel struck out swinging but catcher Owen Spiwak could not catch it cleanly. He looked Kelli back to third and threw to first to complete the strikeout. However, Kelli turned on the jets and scored the first run of the game.
The Emeralds went ahead 2-0 when Luis Diaz singled and reached second on a Pondler balk. A Jonathan Soto single to left beat a defensive shift to plate Diaz. Ponder retired six of the seven hitters before a Soto double to left field that Freddy Rodriguez had trouble tracking down as he misplayed the carom off the fence. Rodriguez was able to fire the ball over to second baseman—normally outfielder—Brandon Polizzi who relayed it to Bryan Lizardo at third to cut down Soto. At first glance, I thought Soto was safe but the call went Vancouver’s way. Kelli was a thorn in the side to Pondler when he singled and stole second again but he would not go any further. Pondler made it through five innings and scattered six hits and struck out three by using an assortment of fastballs in the high 80’s and offspeed stuff in the low 80’s.
Dalton Rodriguez was sharp in his first Northwest League outing of the season as he struck out the first two batters he faced looking and walked just one over two scoreless frames. Lefthander Elio Silva faced the mininum thanks to a baserunning blunder. After striking out Kelli, Silva surrendered a double to Nelson Velazquez but Velazquez apparently forgot how many outs there were when he was doubled off at second. Morel lifted a pop fly by Morel to Guzman at first and he threw it over to shortstop Jesus Navarro for the easy double play.
The only time the C’s seriously threatened to score was the first inning with runners on the corners and one out. They could not put much of anything together against the 19 year-old Carerra who retired eight in a row at one point. A Guzman walk in the fourth and a Spiwak single in the fifth were his only other missteps over six frames. Other than a lineout by Polizzi and Spiwak’s single, the C’s hitters did not make quality contact.
Polizzi blooped a two-out single to right in the seventh and Navarro rapped a base up the gut in the eighth but Em’s reliever Dalton Geekie made sure they went nowhere. Luis Aquino made quick work of the C’s in the ninth to nail down the win.
Scoring recap of the Eugene Emeralds opening day win over the Vancouver Candians! pic.twitter.com/d0llQkT2RX
— Eugene Emeralds (@EugeneEmeralds) June 16, 2018
The C’s were 1-for-3 with runners in scoring position and as noted before, that one could easily have been ruled a zero as Guzman’s fly ball was mishandled in right field with Kirwer on second.
The C’s play their second game Saturday night at 7:05 pm. Rob Fai will have the call on CanadiansBaseball.com. You can also watch on MiLB.TV.
With the arrival of eight players from the 2018 draft class, one could expect a few changes in the starting lineup in Game 2 of 76.
Here’s a selection of tweets from Opening Day and around the Blue Jays system featuring observations, interviews and other random stuff.
CANADIANS: Canadians loss in Eugene on Friday marks the first time since 2010 that they have lost a season opener (7 consecutive wins).
— VancouverCanadiansPR (@CanadiansPR) June 16, 2018
Home sweet home! After 14 days on the road, the Lugnuts triumphed 6-4 tonight behind five scoreless innings from Maximo Castillo and four hits from Kevin Vicuña!
— Lansing Lugnuts (@LansingLugnuts) June 16, 2018
Help us welcome Emma Charlesworth-Seiler to the Northwest League! She is only one of two female umpires currently in the MiLB. She will be apart of the umpiring crew during our series vs the Ems. pic.twitter.com/WE2WrB7Txg
— Vancouver Canadians (@vancanadians) June 16, 2018
Got my first W on @FortniteGame but it was on the Nintendo Switch… does it:
— Shane Dawson Jr. (@DawsonJr23) June 16, 2018
Emma is killin it at tonight’s game. pic.twitter.com/IyD17fEjKR
— Eugene Emeralds (@EugeneEmeralds) June 16, 2018
— Steve Ewen (@SteveEwen) June 16, 2018
Fresh off the press! 2018 Opening Day rosters! pic.twitter.com/fP2FVKQhgB
— Vancouver Canadians (@vancanadians) June 15, 2018
— CsPlusBaseball.ca (@csplusbaseball) June 14, 2018
Hi Rob, just to let you know Brandon has been a short stop all is life. He only requested to play center field when he went to play at Cal State Dominguez Hills only 3 seasons as center fielder!
— Debra Polizzi (@baseball693) June 16, 2018
— Gord Phillips (@GordPhillips) June 16, 2018
— Around The Nest (@AroundNest) June 15, 2018