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Avila makes MLB debut against Dodgers
Nick Avila
THS alum Nick Avila makes his MLB debut Monday night for the Giants against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers’ Shohei Ohtani was Avila’s first MLB strikeout (Image courtesy of

The latest chapter of the storied San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers rivalry featured a familiar face for local baseball fans.

Ahead of the seventh inning of Monday night’s regular season contest between the California foes — an 8-3 Los Angeles victory — Nick Avila jogged through the bullpen gates in right field of Dodger Stadium and onto the mound. Donning the No. 58 jersey for the Giants, the 2015 Turlock High School graduate became the eighth Bulldog to play in Major League Baseball and the first since Tyler Soderstrom, who appeared in 45 games for the Oakland Athletics last season.

On Monday afternoon, the Giants announced that the 26-year-old Avila was selected from Triple-A Sacramento. It was an announcement that Avila had been waiting on for nearly his entire life.

At the time Avila entered the game, the Giants found themselves trailing 6-2 and was tasked by manager Bob Melvin to face one of the most daunted lineups in recent baseball memory. Due up for the Dodgers were Gavin Lux and three former Most Valuable players — Mookie Betts (American League 2018), Shohei Ohtani (American League 2021-2023) and Freddie Freeman (National League 2020 and 2023). Avila forced a lineout from Lux before giving up a double to Betts.

Against Ohtani, Avila offered a mix of cutters and four-seam fastballs. Through the first six pitches, Avila forced five foul balls before striking out the Japanese superstar on a fastball that was tipped into the mitt of catcher Tom Murphy.

“He's probably the best hitter in baseball,” Avila said of Ohtani. “Pretty cool to have that as my first strikeout, you know. He definitely was a hard AB, so I tip my cap to him.

“I just tried to beat him up. Just threw some cutters in and, you know, I just slipped a fastball right past him. I think he was on it, but slipped it right there and I won that battle. I'm sure I'll face him again.”

When asked by Japanese media whether he will ask Ohtani to sign the ball for him, Avila replied, “If he's willing, I think that'd be pretty cool. That’ll definitely be an honor to have him sign that.”

Betts scored on a Freeman double the next at-bat. Avila was then tagged for his second run when Will Smith singled in Freeman. The Modesto native bounced back with a strikeout of Max Muncy. In the ninth inning, he retired the side of Teoscar Hernandez, James Outman and Chis Taylor in order.

“It's definitely one of the best lineups in baseball. Definitely my plan was to get ahead and try to stay ahead and at first ending, I think I was a little jittery. (I) fell behind most of the hitters and you know they're good hitters, so they're going to take advantage of that,” Avila explained. “Definitely coming up a second inning, I tried to slow down a little bit and come out (to) just do what I do and power the zone early and try to put them away and have better results, so (I’m) pleased. That's a positive I could take away from them.”

Avila threw a total of 38 pitches, including 23 strikes. 

The Dodgers began their scoring when Ohtani grounded into a folders choice in the first inning against Giants starter Keaton Winn, allowing Betts to score from third. They struck again when Freeman knocked an RBI single in the third inning. Later in the frame, Ohtani scored on a sacrifice fly by Smith. The Giants cut the deficit to 3-1 thanks to a sixth inning solo blast by Michael Conforto. Los Angeles blew the game open in the bottom half of the inning with a three-run shot to dead center off reliever Tyler Rodgers.

Avila is expected to remain in the big league club at least through the remainder of the Giants’ series at Dodger Stadium, which concludes today at 7:10 p.m.