The Gwinnett Stripers used three early runs to knock off Norfolk 3-1 in front of 11,131 fans Friday night at Harbor Park.
Five Norfolk hurlers combined to limit the Stripers to just five hits, but Gwinnett used RBI doubles from Rio Ruiz and Jaff Decker to pick up the win in the season opener for both clubs. The loss was the 11th straight season opener the Tides have dropped, as their last season-opening victory came during the 2007 campaign - Norfolk's first year as an Orioles affiliate.
Making his Triple-A debut, Norfolk starter Yefry Ramirez (0-1) took the tough-luck loss, allowing a run on one hit over 4.0 innings of work. Ramirez, who tied for 2nd in Minor League Baseball with 15 victories in 2017, walked two and struck out three while throwing 47 of his 72 pitches for strikes. The setback was his first since July 31st of the 2017 season - a span of 13 starts.
Gwinnett starter Mike Soroka (1-0) earned his first Triple-A victory after firing five shutout innings. Soroka, the #3 prospect in the Atlanta system and the #31 prospect in all of baseball according to MLB.com, yielded three hits and a walk while striking out five. Three relievers followed Soroka's effort, with Jesse Biddle striking out three over the final two frames to earn the save.
Luis Sardinas had two singles to lead Norfolk's six-hit attack, while Joey Rickard doubled and scored a run. DJ Stewart, the #13 prospect in the Orioles system according to MLB.com, singled in the fifth inning for his first Triple-A hit.
The two teams continue their season-opening three-game set on Saturday night at Harbor Park, with first pitch slated for 7:05. RHP David Hess is set to take the mound for Norfolk and will be opposed by right-hander Matt Wisler. After Saturday's game there will be a fireworks show, presented by Dominion Fireworks.
Notes: The 2018 season is Norfolk's 50th in the International League…Norfolk's Opening Day roster consisted of 10 players on Baltimore's 40-man roster…The contest was the first for Gwinnett with the name "Stripers", as the franchise rebranded from the Gwinnett Braves during the offseason… Norfolk LHP Tanner Scott, the #6 prospect in the Orioles system, struck out two over 2.0 innings of shutout relief…The two clubs combined to go 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position, with Norfolk going 0-for-5.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.