Ishikawa and Barnette open baseball seasons with a bang

The 2009 season couldn’t have started any better for Federal Way High School graduate Travis Ishikawa. The starting first baseman for the San Francisco Giants connected on a three-run triple in his first at bat of the year, leading the Giants to a 10-6 win April 7.

But it’s been a struggle for the left-hander ever since. Ishikawa is hitting just .161 after earning the team’s everyday first base job. After starting the season with hits in his first three games, Ishikawa is just 1 for his last 18 with two RBIs and 11 strikeouts.

Ishikawa bounced back last year with an impressive season in the minor leagues. He hit a combined .299 with 24 home runs and 94 RBIs in 112 games with the Class AA Connecticut Defenders and the Class AAA Fresno Bees.

His numbers got him a late-season call-up with the Giants and he responded with an impressive .274 average in 95 at bats. Ishikawa also hit three home runs, 15 RBIs, six doubles and scored 12 runs for the Giants.

The Giants will travel to Safeco Field to take on the Seattle Mariners in an interleague series May 22-24.

Barnette makes history

Thomas Jefferson High School graduate Tony Barnette made a little history earlier this month. Barnette threw the first-ever pitch for the Reno Aces on April 10. The Aces are the brand-new AAA affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Barnette earned the honor of being the opening-day starting pitcher after an impressive 2008 season in the minor leagues. The 25-year-old was 11-7 in 27 starts last season with the AA Mobile Bay Bears, racking up a 3.87 ERA and 133 strikeouts in 153 2/3 innings. He led the Southern League in strikeouts and was second in wins.

Barnette, who pitched at Arizona State before being a 10th-round draft choice of the Diamondbacks in 2006, was sharp in the opener. He struck out seven and allowed two earned run, but earned the loss against the Salt Lake Bees.

The Aces relocated from Tucson, Ariz. in the offseason.

“It’s an honor,” Barnette said. “It’s a big deal. It might be minimal to some, but it’s something I’ll look back on and remember. It’s opening day, it’s an exciting time of year for everybody across the entire world as long as you’re a baseball fan.”

Barnette is currently 0-1 on the season in two starts. He has allowed four runs in 8 2/3 innings with an earned-run average of 4.15.

“He’s a young guy with good stuff who will be learning this league as he goes along,” Aces pitching coach Mike Parrott.

The Aces make two trips to Tacoma to take on the Rainiers in June. Reno will play at Cheney Stadium June 2-5 and June 18-21.

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