Blue Jays open their regular season with a pair of close wins over North Shore
Posted April 15, 2022
It’s been far too long a wait for April baseball, and the sun was shining in Tsawwassen on Saturday the 9th for the Delta Blue Jays opening day doubleheader against the North Shore Twins. Following 18 exhibition outings, the team was itching to play some meaningful games against some of the top competition in the province and start working towards their ultimate goal of representing BC in Saskatoon this August. With only the top 4 Bantam PBL teams qualifying for their shot at Nationals, every game counts!
Twins 3, BLUE JAYS 4
Jake Fehr got the ball for game #1, one of four returning players from the last year’s team, looking to build off a solid second half on the mound. He struggled to find the zone early in his first two innings of work, delivering free passes to the first two batters he faced in each inning. Luckily, Fehr made his best pitches when his team needed them the most, bouncing back to strike out each of the last two batters in each inning, stranding 3 of those 4 baserunners and minimizing the damage. The Twins carried a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the 2nd soft-throwing lefty Marcus Fong on the hill, but then they ran into the Brodie Tse train. Tse served a one-out single into left field, and he’d complete his roundtrip around the bases a mere 3 pitches later. He stole second, stole third and scored on the catcher’s overthrow to tie the game at 1 (Tse ended up with 6 steals on the day!). After a scoreless third inning, the teams would trade a couple of runs in the 4th. North Shore strung together a double and two singles to bring two home and give themselves a short-lived advantage. The Jays answered in the bottom half with one monster swing from another returning player. Smyan Billing’s blast down the left-field line drove in himself and Noah Farnden, who reached on a walk. Both starting pitchers departed after four complete innings, Fehr giving way to first-year Nathaniel Kolmel, efficiently sitting the Twins down in order in the top of the 5th. With two gone and nobody on in the bottom half, the Jays threaten to grab their first lead as former UBC man Ed Wilde smoked a 2-0 pitch into the left-centre gap for a double. Unfortunately, the very next pitch turned into the final out of the inning, and Wilde would end up being the only baserunner the Jays stranded the whole game. The top of the 6th started off dicey with the Twins leadoff man reaching on an error, but that would quickly be erased by a timely 5-4-3 double play. Now it was time to scratch the winning run across in classic Delta fashion. Hunter McLean worked a one-out walk and promptly stole second, then advanced to third on a wild pick-off attempt that wound up in centre field. With Farnden at the plate, he wasted no time in executing a perfect suicide squeeze to cash in McLean and finally give his team their first lead. Wilde took over on the bump to shut the door in the 7th, and he’d do just that, striking out a pair and stranding the potential tying run at second base. The Jays earn the victory despite being outhit 5-3 and only managing a total of 5 baserunners in the game.
Twins 1, BLUE JAYS 4
Game #2 wasn’t quite as tight as the first, with the Jays grabbing the lead in the bottom of the 2nd and never letting go. Brayden Abenojar brought home the opening run with a hard-hit ball down the third base line, his first of two hits in the game. The Jays added two more in the 3rd when #9 and 10 hitters Jake Fehr and Nathan Reynolds both reached to lead off the inning, turning it over to the top of the order to provide the team with a welcomed cushion. Starting pitcher Ivan Simbulan was strong in his five innings of work, striking out 8 and allowing just one run in the top of the 5th. Farnden continued his productive day by punching an RBI single up the middle to cancel out the Twins’ lone run in the bottom of the 5th. Desmond Tregaskis was lights out in his two innings of relief, going 6 up, 6 down to preserve a 2-0 start to the season for the Jays. He and his catching partner Wilde both caught a game and recorded a save on the day!
The boys in blue were supposed to play another doubleheader in Whalley on Sunday, but Mother Nature had other plans - the first game was suspended in the top of the 4th and will be resumed at a later date. Delta will be seeing a lot of the Chiefs in the next little while, as they’ll take them on in a doubleheader at Winskill Park on Saturday the 16th and look to build on their early success.