Grizzlies’ comeback comes up short in home opener


Wyatt Bible

The Fresno Grizzlies stand for the National Anthem at the beginning of the 2023 home opener.

By Al Scott, Contributor

Minor league baseball is back. The Fresno Grizzlies welcomed the Stockton Ports to Chukchansi Park on Tuesday, April 11, for its season home opener.

Despite the packed night with 8,794 fans in attendance, including an appearance from Mayor Jerry Dyer, the Grizzlies fell 5-4 to the Ports. This loss brings its overall record to 2-2. 

After allowing a 1-out base hit, Grizzlies starting pitcher Caleb Franzen induced a double play in the top half of the first inning. The lefty forced the Ports to two more scoreless innings.

The Ports  responded to Franzen in the fourth inning. After reaching base on a walk, Stockton catcher Jose Mujica singled down the right field line, scoring the first points of the game, 2-0.

The next batter, Robert Pauson, doubled Mujica in to extend the Ports’ lead to 3-0. 

Stockton’s starting pitcher Jose Dicochea pitched four innings, allowing zero runs, two hits and striking out five. 

Fresno’s Sergio Sanchez came in to relieve Franzen in the fifth. After nearly getting out of the inning, Sanchez gave up a 2-out, 2-run triple to Ports left fielder Clark Elliot, increasing their lead, 5-0.

Sanchez bounced back and threw a pair of scoreless innings while punching out four batters. 

After a leadoff double in the bottom of the sixth from Andy Perez, catcher Kody Huff brought him in with an RBI single to give the Grizzlies its first run of the evening, with the score 5-1. 

Following a walk to Jake Snider in the bottom of the eighth inning, Perez hit his second double of the season,putting two runners in scoring position.  Huff then drove in Snider on a fielder’s choice for his second RBI of the night to cut the deficit, 5-2.  

Two batters later, Jesus Bugarin hit a sacrifice fly, scoring Perez. The Ports finally got out of the inning after calling on reliever Blaze Pontes. 

After working a scoreless eighth inning, Grizzlies’ reliever Felix Ramirez loaded the bases. A pair of singles and a walk in the bottom of the ninth loaded the bases for Perez who hit a single into left bringing the score within one, 4-4. The Ports stranded the next two batters, ending the Grizzlies hopes of a comeback, 5-4.

Former Fresno State outfielder EJ Andrews Jr. went 0-for-4 on the night. 

In 2021, the former Bulldog earned 2nd-team All-Mountain West after hitting .325 with nine home runs and 29 RBIs in 43 games. Last season, Andrews Jr. became the 9th Bulldog alum to play for the Fresno Grizzlies. 

Season opener in San Jose

The Grizzlies opened up the season on the road April 6 with a 5-3 comeback victory against the San Jose Giants (San Francisco Giants Single-A affiliate). 

After trailing 3-1 through the first eight innings, the Grizzlies rallied behind Kody Huff whoscored later in the inning off a wild pitch to tie the game. 

In the 10th inning, Parker Kelly belted a two-run home run to give the Grizzlies the lead. 

The next night, Huff went 5-for-6 with two RBIs, leading the Grizzlies to a 9-5 victory. 

Fresno fell 5-4 on Saturday, April 8, but took the series victory over San Jose before traveling back home. 

The Grizzlies will continue the action downtown at Chukchansi Park April 12-16 against Stockton. Fans can also listen all season on ESPN radio (790AM).