Jarred Kelenic Homers Twice in Rainiers Debut, Tacoma Drops Season Opener to El Paso in Extra Innings

TACOMA, WA – Rainiers left fielder Jarred Kelenic throttled a pair of solo home runs in back-to-back at-bats on Thursday, but Tacoma lost to the El Paso Chihuahuas in 12 innings, 7-6, in the first game at Cheney Stadium since Aug. 25, 2019. The season opener was also Rainiers manager Kristopher Negrón’s first game as the club’s skipper, and his first game coaching at any professional level.

 Kelenic broke a scoreless tie with his first Triple-A home run in the bottom of the 5th against left-hander Nick Ramirez. The Wisconsin native pulled a high fastball on a 3-0 count and cleared the 325-foot sign in right field. After El Paso (1-0) took a 2-1 advantage in the top of the 7th, Kelenic tagged his second long ball of the game off right-hander Mason Thompson (BS, 1) to knot things at 2-2.

With the Rainiers (0-1) down to their final out and trailing by two runs in the 10th inning, catcher Cal Raleigh lifted a game-tying home run that also scored Kelenic and sent the game to an 11th inning, tied 4-4. Following an 11th inning error that gave El Paso a 5-4 advantage, designated hitter José Godoy singled home right fielder Eric Filia to tie the game again, 5-5.

 The Chihuahuas secured the victory with a pair of runs in the 12th frame. Center fielder Braden Bishop dumped a hit into center to plate second basemen Jack Reinheimer and cut the deficit to one, but first baseman Sam Travis hit a hard lineout to center field to end the game with the bases loaded. The Rainiers got solid pitching performances from starter Paul Sewald, righties Yohan Ramirez, Reeves Martin and Vinny Nittoli, who all pitched 2 scoreless innings.

 Sewald and Ramirez combined for 9 strikeouts and no walks over the first 4 frames. Right-hander Brady Lail (0-1) took the loss after surrendering 2 runs, including the automatic runner, in the final inning. Second baseman Ivan Castillo led the offensive charge for El Paso with a 4-for-5 night that included 3 RBI, 2 runs and a triple. Chihuahuas righty Jordan Guerrero (1-0; BS, 1) suffered a blown save but earned the win over the final two innings.

The Rainiers and Chihuahuas will continue their series Friday at 7:05 p.m. PT from Cheney Stadium. Tacoma will send one of the organization’s top pitching prospects to the hill in right-hander Logan Gilbert. He will make his Triple-A debut against the top San Diego Padres prospect, southpaw MacKenzie Gore. The 2017 3rd overall pick is also making his first Triple-A start. Rainiers broadcaster Mike Curto will have full coverage on TacomaRainiers.com.

 All 2021 Rainiers games, home and away, can also be heard for free on the MiLB First Pitch app. HD video broadcasts of every home game can be viewed with an MiLB.TV subscription. (Use code: RAINIERS to save $10 on an annual subscription.)

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