Addison Barger had a two-run triple and two-run single in his Nat Bailey Stadium debut.
The Eugene Emeralds spoiled the return of Northwest League baseball to Nat Bailey Stadium in 963 days with a 6-5 win over the Vancouver Canadians in front of 4.403 fans Tuesday.
The Emeralds broke out on top first when Armani Smith started the second inning with a single and came home on a two-out home run on an 0-2 pitch by Luis Toribio off C’s starter Sem Robberse.
Eugene would get another two-out run in the third when Marco Luciano and Smith had back-to-black doubles to right field to make it a 3-0 game.
Vancouver’s first run came off the bat of Trevor Schwecke as he took an offering from Emeralds reliever Ty Weber into the C’s left field bullpen to start the bottom of the third.
The Canadians would tie in the fifth when Harry Ray singled to left field with two outs in the fifth. Leo Jiménez doubled to right before Addison Barger pulled a triple to right to score Ray and Jiménez.
The Emeralds regained the lead in the seventh off C’s reliever Alex Nolan when Ghordy Santos reached base on an infield single to second that Miguel Hiraldo had clank off his glove. Toribio then yanked a triple to right field to score Santos before a throwing error by Hiraldo allowed Toribio to score to give the Emeralds a 5-3 advantage.
Vancouver battled back again after the seventh inning stretch off Eugene reliever Clay Helvey. A four-pitch walk to Garrett Spain and a Ray double to left put the tying runs on. Helvey struck out Jiménez swinging before giving way to Cole Waites and he gave up a two-run single to right by Barger to even things up at 5-5.
Eugene would get the last laugh as Luciano took C’s reliever Jimmy Burnette deep over the wall in center field for a solo shot with one out in the eighth.
Eugene’s starting pitcher Seth Corry saw his night come to a very early end. He fell behind 2-0 on Jiménez before exiting with an injury to his left arm. Nick Morreale came on in relief and wound up walking Jiménez but Barger lined into an unassisted double play at first to spoil that rally.
After a nine-pitch first inning—which included an unassisted putout by P.K. Morris on the game’s first pitch—Robberse gave up two runs in the second before giving up a double to Carter Aldrete off the wall in center. Robberse would strand Aldrete by getting Jimmy Glowenke on a popup to short.
The Emeralds got another run in the third but it would have been worse had Spain not run down a ball deep to center field off the bat of Hunter Bishop to start the inning. Spain made the catch just in front of the ‘H’ (hits) column on the manual scoreboard.
Canadians fans got their first look of the new rules implemented by Minor League Baseball with the pitch clocks installed in the outfield and behind home plate. Aldrete was rung up automatically for a strikeout to end the fourth inning without Robberse throwing a pitch because Aldrete was not ready to hit in time.
Riley Tirotta drove one deep to center field with one out in the bottom of the fourth but Luis Matos hauled it in for the catch. That proved to be a huge play as Zach Britton doubled to center but he was stranded when Hiraldo grounded out to third.
Tirotta made a nice defensive play of his own when he ran down a foul fly ball in right fieldoff the bat of Glowenke to begin the fifth inning, making the catch in the Emeralds bullpen.
Morris had a chance to put the C’s ahead in the fifth with Barger at third base after his game-tying triple but he struck out swinging and was unable to beat the throw the first from catcher Patrick Bailey.
Britton did reach base on a strikeout after a wild pitch by Helvey with one out in the sixth but Britton would advance no further.
The Canadians had another chance to take the lead in the seventh after Barger’s two-run single. Morris got aboard on a walk but was forced out on a Tirotta 6-4 fielder’s choice. Britton then went down swinging against Waites to leave runners on the corners.
The C’s last gasp came in the eighth when Schwecke drew a one-out walk and was advanced to third on a double to right by Spain. Nick Avila took over for Waites and struck out Ray on a 3-2 pitch before ringing up Jiménez to end the inning. Avila struck out the first two batters of the ninth before retiring Tirotta on a grounder to short to pick up the save.
Ray led the hit parade with three while Barger had four RBI with his triple and single in his first start since April 10. Jiménez, Schwecke and Spain reached base twice with a hit and a walk. Britton had the other hit. Morris and Hiraldo were 0-for-4 and Tirotta was 0-for-5.
Robberse lasted five innings, giving up three runs on five hits over five innings. He struck out four and walked one and saw his outfielders handle nine of his 10 outs in play. He stranded a runner at third in the third inning to keep the damage at one run when Smith’s double moved to third on a throwing error by Tirotta in right. The pride of Zeist, Netherlands finished up by retiring the last seven batters he faced.
Nolan had a 1-2-3 first inning of work by retiring the side in the sixth before allowing two runs in the seventh on two hits but he struck out three without a walk. Burnette took the loss because of one bad pitch but was otherwise dominant with five strikeouts over the final two frames, striking out the side looking in the ninth.
Schwecke remains the only position player from the previous game who played at Nat Bailey Stadium back on August 30, 2019 against Tri-City. The other two on the roster three years ago were Nolan and fellow pitcher Adam Kloffenstein.
For what is believed to be the first time in a while, the Canadians did not wear their white jerseys for the home opener, opting to go with the reds instead.
2019, 2021 and 2022 C’s pitcher Gabriel Ponce was promoted to Double-A New Hampshire before Tuesday’s home opener. The righthander from Arizona Western College began the year with four shutout appearances for the C’s and picked up a save in Spokane to clinch a season-opening series victory.
Righthander Garrett Farmer joins Monty’s Mounties from extended spring training. Toronto signed the 24 year-old from Huntsville, Alabama as a free agent on April 12. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound hurler was a 25th round pick in 2019 by the Baltimore Orioles from Jacksonville State. Farmer was 1-2 with a 3.71 ERA, striking out 47 batters in 51 innings of relief and putting up a WHIP of 1.12 with the High-A Aberdeen Ironbirds in 2021. He was in the Gulf Coast League in 2019 where he won three of five decisions with a 1.21 ERA over 22-/13 innings. Farmer—who made it in time to Nat Bailey Stadium for the home opener—will wear number 17.
2021 C’s reliever Adrian Hernandez will take his devastating changeup to Triple-A Buffalo after being promoted from New Hampshire. He picked up a win and a save and had a 2.25 ERA in four innings with the Fisher Cats.
Naswell Paulino makes his first start at Nat Bailey Stadium at 7:05 pm this evening. The game can be heard on CanadiansBaseball.com. Tyler Zickel—who made his official debut in the broadcasting booth Tuesday, filling the sizeable shoes of Rob Fai—will have the play-by-play.
Radar Gun Rundown
Robberse was in the 92-93 mile per range, touching 94 at one point. He was around the mid-80s, going as low as 80. Two of his strikeouts were at 88 and 86.
Nolan was around 82-86 and up to 92-93 with one strikeout at 93. Burnett ran it up to 95 and was at 92-94 and as low at 77-80 and 82. He registered strikeouts at 92, 90, 92, 93 and 78.
The fastest pitches of the night came from the Emeralds Waites who lit up the gun at 98 and 99.
Congratulations goes out to 2017 Canadians lefty Zach Logue for not only making his major league debut with the Oakland Athletics but winning it as well. The former Kentucky Wildcat pitched 1-1/3 shutout innings in the A’s 2-1 win over Baltimore. He struck out Ramón Urías on his first three pitches in the bigs. He got around a hit and a walk and had his victory saved by 2016 C’s righthander Zach Jackson. He struck out the final batter he faced and stranded the tying run at first by getting Anthony Santander to go down swinging.
When Logue and Jackson tell their kids and grandkids about their momentous firsts of their major league careers, they will need to exaggerate the size of the crowd as only 3,748 fans took in the game at the Oakland Coliseum. That is 925 people less than who showed up at the Nat Tuesday.