Following Friday’s loss, 2-0, in Kelowna, which completed a 1-5 Canadian road-trip, the Pippins return home to open up a 5-game homestand to close out the month of July. First up is a three-game series with the Ridgefield Raptors, who the Pippins took two out of three from to open up the season on the road. First pitch for the series opener on Saturday is set for 6:35 PM, with pregame coverage at pippinsbaseball.com/live beginning at 6:20 PM. Right-hander Trystan Vrieling will start for the Pippins against a to-be-determined pitcher for Ridgefield.
PIPPINS STRUGGLE OFFENSIVELY, SWEPT IN KELOWNA: After scoring just one run in Thursday’s second game in Kelowna, the Pippins had just one total hit and scored zero runs in Friday’s series finale, falling in shutout fashion for the second time all year, 2-0, and allowing Kelowna to complete the three-game series sweep. Pippins starter Jack Gonzales was fantastic, only allowing two earned runs over a season-long 7.2 innings, but fell victim to some tough defensive breaks and zero run support. In the fifth inning, Kelowna took a 1-0 lead after first baseman Tyler Dean threw a bunt attempt into right field, and in the eighth inning, Marcus Guarin collected an RBI single after a ball hit to third took a late, bad hop on third baseman Nick Israel and bounced into left field. The Pippins struggled to get anything going against Kelowna righty Blake Tritch, with Israel’s fourth inning, opposite-field single the only hit of the day for the Pippins. Tritch picked up his second win after striking out four and walking four over 7-plus innings. Reliever Matt Voelzke picked up his second save of the season with 2 innings of shutout relief, including retiring two inherited runners in scoring position.
FOR THE PIPPINS: Right-hander Trystan Vrieling will make his third start of the summer on Saturday in the series opener with Ridgefield. The 6-foot-3, 180-pound righty native to Kennewick, WA, is 1-2 on the season with a 2.87 ERA after picking up the win in his last start on Sunday in Victoria. In that start, the Gonzaga incoming freshman allowed just two earned runs over 5.1 innings of work, striking out 6, walking 4, and allowing four hits. In 15.2 innings of work this season, Vrieling has struck out 18 and walked 7, while opponents hit just .242 off of him.
FOR THE RAPTORS: Ridgefield has not announced a projected starter for Saturday’s series opener.
A LOOK AT THE RAPTORS: The Raptors, a wildly different team than the one that the Pippins took two out of three from in the first week of the season, have largely sat around .500 for the majority of the season, with an 18-21 overall record, and 5-7 record in the second half of the season. Ridgefield most recently split a 2-game home series with Victoria after losing two out of three at home to the Portland Pickles. On the year, the Raptors rank near the middle of the pack in team ERA (4.90, 8th), runs scored (198, 7th), and team batting average (.242, t-8th). The Raptors’ series in Yakima is the start of a stretch of 9 of their next 12 games away from Ridgefield; the Raptors are coming off of a nine-game homestand, as well as 12 of their last 15 games at home at the brand-new Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex (where the Pippins were the first team to ever win a game).
SEEING DOUBLE?: The Pippins have played the Raptors before this season – they were the first opponent in Ridgefield’s history on June 4 – but the rosters of the two teams could not be more different as they meet again nearly eight weeks later. From the nine players in the Pippins’ Opening Day lineup in Ridgefield, as well as the three pitchers used, only two players remain – Tanner Parker (the shortstop that day) and Mark Woinarowicz (who pitched two innings of scoreless relief).
ODDS & ENDS: By pitching into the 8th inning on Friday, Jack Gonzales posted the longest start (by innings) of a Pippins starter this year…the Pippins were held to just one hit for the second time all year, the first coming in their only other shutout of the year (June 24 by Corvallis at home)…Gonzales became the only starter on the Pippins to complete seven innings or more in two starts this year, having also done so on July 14 in a complete game 7-inning performance against Port Angeles.