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Spokane Indians

Spokane Indians pitching leads way to 4-2 win over Vancouver in first game of season

By Colton Clark The Spokesman-Review

Prized pitching prospect Chase Dollander had a promising professional debut, setting the tone for the Spokane Indians during their season-opening win.

Dollander didn’t allow a hit over five scoreless innings, helping the Indians to a 4-2 High-A West victory over the Vancouver Canadians in front of 3,044 fans on a chilly Friday night at Avista Stadium.

“It was a lot of fun,” Dollander said. “Getting a win on opening night is great. I wouldn’t say I’m surprised (with the stellar start), because I know I have it in me. It was just a matter of executing pitch by pitch, and I feel like I was able to do that. If I can continue doing this, it’s going to be a really good year.”

The right-handed Dollander was selected with the ninth overall pick in the 2023 MLB draft. He entered the season as the top-ranked pitching prospect and the No. 2 overall prospect in the Colorado Rockies’ organization.

In his first real taste of pro baseball, Dollander looked the part, exhibiting composure from the start and showing off an elite fastball. He kept batters guessing with a mix of sliders and curveballs, too.

“He established his fastball and really executed his pitches,” Spokane pitching coach Blaine Beatty said. “He tunneled that slider down and away off the plate and got his curve into the game. He had a good mix tonight and kept them off-balance. … He had a couple of hiccups, a few walks and a hit batter, but he competed his butt off.”

Dollander sat the Canadians down in order and struck out three batters in the first two innings. He ran into some trouble in the third but stranded two Vancouver runners in scoring position with a strikeout on an off-speed pitch, then let out a yell as he left the mound.

“There’s a lot of self-talk in those moments, when you have runners on second and third with no outs,” Dollander said. “I had to dig myself out of it. In that moment, it’s like, ‘You put yourself into this. Now, get yourself out.’ “

Dollander stranded another runner in the fourth, then leaned on his best pitch – an accurate fastball that tops out at 99 mph – during an impressive fifth inning, punching out the final two batters.

Dollander finished with eight strikeouts while allowing three walks. Of his 85 pitches, 55 went for strikes.

“I leaned on the fastball a little bit more. I just liked the way it was playing up in the zone,” Dollander said. “I’m looking forward to having all four of my pitches going in one outing. It’s gonna be a lot of fun once I do that.”

The Canadians didn’t record a hit until the seventh inning. Spokane’s offense had a slow start, as well, failing to record a hit until the fourth. But the Indians’ lineup found life in the sixth, loading the bases with no outs. Catcher Bryant Betancourt drew a bases-loaded walk, but Spokane couldn’t muster anything else during the inning.

The Indians went ahead for good in the seventh. Outfielder Cole Carrigg, the Rockies’ eighth-ranked prospect, led off with a single. Shortstop Dyan Jorge – Colorado’s seventh-ranked overall prospect – hit a two-run single up the middle later in the inning, and outfielder Robby Martin Jr. followed with an RBI single.

Vancouver’s Dasan Brown had a solo homer to lead off the eighth. Closer Zach Agnos earned the save with a 1-2-3 ninth.

Aside from a shaky stretch late, Indians pitchers held Vancouver in check. The Canadians managed three hits and struck out 11 times.

“I couldn’t be more proud of what they did tonight,” Beatty said of his staff.

The Indians totaled nine hits and three walks and struck out seven times.

Vancouver starter Ryan Jennings allowed one hit and one walk while striking out five over four innings. Reliever Anders Tolhurst took the loss, yielding three runs on three hits in the seventh.

Jorge went 2 for 4 with two RBIs and two runs to pace Spokane’s offense. Martin and designated hitter Jesus Bugarin both finished 2 for 4.