VICTORIA, B.C. – The Yakima Valley Pippins kept it close early, but fell apart late on the mound in a 17-2, series opening loss to the Victoria HarbourCats on Friday night at Royal Athletic Park in British Columbia, Canada.
The Pippins (6-5, 17-20) kept things competitive early, but stranded 14 runners on base over the 9 inning contest. Victoria (8-3, 26-12) got a fantastic start on the mound from right-hander Aaron Celestino. Celestino, who had lost in a previous start against the Pippins in Yakima, struck out 8 over six scoreless innings and did not allow a walk with nine hits. He picked up his third win.
Jack Gonzales battled for the Pippins over 5.1 innings of work, but did not have his sharpest stuff and was hit around by a strong Victoria lineup. After striking for two runs in the second inning, Victoria added single runs in the third and fourth innings before knocking Gonzales out in the sixth, when they had their first of two six-run innings. Gonzales finished the night allowing 8 earned runs on 12 hits over 5.1 innings.
In the seventh inning, the HarbourCats had another 6-run frame, this time managing the runs on just one hit. Pippins reliever Anthony Alvarado entered the game and allowed six earned runs without recording an out, allowing all six men he faced to reach and score. The HarbourCats added another run for insurance off of right-hander Dominic Miller in the 8th inning.
The Pippins did manage to bring home 2 runs in the top of the ninth off of reliever Tyler Hilton, with Tanner Parker’s RBI single preventing Victoria from earning a shutout. Parker led the way on offense for Yakima Valley with four hits on the day, while Nick Israel, Tyler Dean, and James Bell all also added four hit days. Victoria had plenty of offensive standouts on the evening, with Kyle Harper going 4-for-5 with 4 RBIs and Chase Meidroth driving in 3 runs on 3 hits.
The series continues on Saturday night north of the border, with first pitch set for 6:35 PM in Game 2. Right-hander Joe Magrisi will start for the Pippins against Victoria right-hander Dakota Hawkins. Pregame coverage will begin with Miles Klotz at pippinsbaseball.com/live at 6:20 PM.