The Vancouver Canadians are 1-0 after a 2-1 victory against the Tri-City Dust Devils at Nat Bailey Stadium Tuesday.
C’s starter Chad Dallas was put to the test in the first inning. He struck out Joe Stewart looking to strand a one-out flare single by Arol Vera over the head of the second baseman Estiven Machado and a two-out single by Gabe Matthews that rolled through the right side of the infield.
The Dust Devils did get to Dallas in the second inning. D’Shawn Knowles lined a leadoff single to right field and Osmy Gregorio walked to start the frame. Steven Rivas grounded into a 3-6 fielder’s choice that Rivas barely beat out at first but a one-out single to left by leadoff hitter Adrian Placencia scored Knowles to make it 1-0.
After that, it was smooth sailing for Dallas as he struck out eight of the next 10 hitters. Knowles hit a deep fly ball to right field that was hauled in on a nice running catch by Alan Roden to begin the fourth inning. Dallas struck out the side in the fifth inning to end his night. Of note, Rainer Nuñez tried to come up with a catch in foul territory near the Dust Devils first base dugout on a Placencia pop up but the ball was just out of his reach.
Gabby Martinez got the first Vancouver hit of the season with a base hit to right with one out in the first inning but he was picked off by Tri-City starter Jack Kochanowicz.
Nuñez was the first C’s baserunner to get into scoring position on Gregorio’s throwing error at third base with one out in the fourth inning. A Kochanowicz wild pitch moved Nuñez to third but Nuñez was tagged out at home when he tried to score on a pitch that bounced away from Podaras at the plate but the Dust Devils catcher scrambled back to get to Nuñez in time.
Monty’s Mounties would pull even in the fifth inning against reliever Nathan Burns. Cade Doughty and Machado both heard ball four with one out before Jommer Hernández ripped a single to left to score Doughty. However, Machado was thrown out at third on a 7-5-6 play at third base.
Abdiel Mendoza relieved Dallas to begin the sixth inning and stranded Joe Stewart‘s two-out infield single to third and stolen base. Machado had trouble holding on to Knowles’ grounder at second but recovered in time to just get Knowles at first.
In the seventh, Mendoza yielded a leadoff single to left by Gregorio and wild pitched him over to second but the C’s 2022 Pitcher of the Year struck out Podaras in the midst of retiring the next three men he faced.
Vancouver tried to take the lead in the seventh on a pair of one-out base hits up the middle by Roden and Doughty but Tri-City reliever Nick Jones got Machado to hit into a 5-4-3 double play.
T.J. Brock sent Tri-CIty away in the eighth by stranding a two-out walk by Matthews but the former Ohio State Buckeye walked Knowles on the first four pitches of the ninth. Brock handled a sacrifice bunt by Gregorio and got Rivas to ground out to first before striking out Podaras looking to leave Knowles 90 feet away.
The C’s were able to get the winning run across without the benefit of a base hit. Nuñez was shaken up when Dylan King hit him with a 93-mile-per-hour fastball in the stomach to start the inning. Josh Kasevich moved pinch-runner Devonte Brown into scoring position with a flare single to short. Alan Roden loaded the bases with a walk and that led to Dust Devils skipper Jack Howell summoning Willian Suarez from the bullpen to face Doughty with the bases loaded. Suarez uncorked a wild pitch to allow Brown to score the winning run.
Tuesday’s win marks the first time the C’s won their home opener since the 2017 championship season. That stretch also includes a loss in their Hillsboro “home opener” in 2021 when they fell to Spokane. The team had to play its home games at Ron Tonkin Field as the border was closed due to the pandemic, which cancelled the 2020 minor league season.
Despite 11 punchouts over five innings, Dallas had to settle for a no-decision and is still seeking his first win at Nat Bailey Stadium. His only win came in his pro debut against the Dust Devils in Tri-City when he stranded a leadoff walk by retiring 15 straight batters back on April 13. That earned the former Tennessee Volunteer Northwest League Pitcher of the Week honours.
The Canadians have a new catcher in the fold. Karl Ellison joined the club in time just before the game. He was acquired from Philadelphia in exchange for pitcher Vinny Nittoli on August 31. The former Vanderbilt Commodore signed with the Phillies as a free agent on March 3 and spent the majority of the year at High-A Jersey Shore with an eight-game tenure at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. The 6-foot-0, 175-pound righthanded hitter, Ellison finished the year with Double-A New Hampshire where he slashed .179/.207/.464 with three doubles, a triple and a home run. The Cincinnati native—assigned to the Development List on April 6—will wear number 46.
The Canadians and Dust Devils are set for another 7:05 p.m. matchup at the Nat Wednesday. Hunter Gregory gets the ball for Vancouver against lefthander Sammy Natera Jr. The game is on CanadiansBaseball.com and MiLB.TV with Tyler Zickel on the call.
2011 Vancouver Canadians second baseman Jon Berti hit his first homer of the season in Miami’s win over Philadelphia. However, his 2-for-3 night with a walk was overshadowed by Luis Arraez hitting for the cycle, the first ever in Marlines history.
A pair of former Vancouver Canadians were given their release recently. 2018, 2021 and 2022 righthander Will McAffer was released by the Kansas City Royals on March 30. The North Vancouver native ended last season with the Winnipeg Goldeyes of the American Association. 2017 shortstop Kevin Vicuña was let go by the Arizona Diamondbacks on April 5, just two months and two days after signing with them as a free agent back in February. The Venezuelan batted .272 at Double-A Reading in the Philadelphia system in 2022.
Finally, my thanks to Ben Abel for inviting me on The Golden V Podcast to preview the season.
Radar Gun Rundown
Dallas had strikeouts 84, 88, 81, 83, 93, 92, 82, 83 and 82 and was around 80-94 miles per hour. Mendoza had Ks of 79 and 94. Brock was up to 98 and had a whiff at 89.