Colorado Springs Sky Sox: The Sky Sox got their season off on the wrong foot on Thursday, surrending a late inning lead, en-route to a 5-4 loss to Tuscon. The Sox led the game 4-3 going into the eighth inning, but two unearned runs spoiled Opening Night for the Rockies Triple-A Affiliate. Major League veteran Brian Lawrence made the rehab start for the Sox, and was very efficient, tossing 6.2 innings of three-run ball. The right-hander struck out two along the way, while giving up ten hits. Reliever Mike Gallo allowed the go-ahead runs to the Sidewinders, as he picked up his first loss of the season. Gallo gave way to Zachary McClellan, who was charged with a blown save in the game. McClellan did not yield an earned run, as he allowed one hit in his one inning of relief. Matt Herges was the final pitcher of the night for Colorado Springs, as he struck out one in his one inning of relief.
The Sox were led offensively by Seth Smith, who had two runs batted in on the night, and hit his first triple of the season. The right-fielder had two hits on the night, and scored one of the Sky Sox runs. Ryan Spilborghs led the team in hits with three on the night, and he also had one of the team’s four runs batted in. Joe Koshansky drove in the other run of the night for the Sky Sox, and Ian Stewart had two hits. The Sky Sox will take on Tuscon once again on Friday, as they face off in game two of this opening four-game series.
Tulsa Drillers: The Tulsa Drillers opening game was postponed on Thursday, as snowy weather ruined any plans of finishing the game. The game was halted in the third inning, as the snow became to heavy to play in. The game has been rescheduled as part of a doubleheader on Friday, with both games being of the seven inning variety. The snowy weather ruined a good start by Greg Reynolds, and now Franklin Morales and Zach Parker will get the start in game one and two respectively.
Modesto Nuts: The Modesto Nuts got into the win column on Opening Day, defeating Visalia 7-3. Alan Johnson picked up his first win of the season, after winning 13 games during the 2006 season. He threw 5.2 innings of five-hit ball, allowing three runs (two earned), while striking out three. The Nuts got some great help from their bullpen, as four pitchers held Visalia scoreless the rest of the way. Tomas Santiago took the ball first, striking out two in 0.2 innings of work before handing the ball off to Jon George. George also pitched 0.2 innings of scoreless ball, and did not allow a hit. David Patton picked up his first hold of the season, as he worked a scoreless inning allowing one hit. Andrew Johnston finished off the game, tossing one inning of one-hit ball as well. In all, the bullpen combined for 3.1 innings of three-hit scoreless ball.
The top of the order were the run producers in this game, as Eric Young and Dexter Fowler combined to drive in five runs. Young drove in two from his leadoff spot, and top prospect Fowler drove in three while knocking two hits. First baseman Jeff Kindel led the Nuts with three hits in the game, smacking two doubles, while scoring once. Travis Becktel went 2-3 in the game, scoring twice, and also had a stolen base. Jason Van Kooten swiped two bags in the game, scored twice, and had a hit. Van Kooten stole 20 bags in 2006, and appears slated for another 20 steal season.
Asheville Tourists: Down 3-1 in the top of the fifth, the Tourists came all the way back to eventually beat the Savannah Gnats 7-4. The Opening Day starter for the Tourists was Josh Sullivan, who had the strikeout pitch working for him on Thursday. Sullivan struck out five batters in 3.2 innings of work, allowing only one earned run. He did struggle with his command though, walking four batters. Sullivan handed the ball off to Ethan Katz, who ended up getting the win for Asheville. Katz pitched 2.1 innings of scoreless relief, striking out three, while allowing two hits. Andrew Kreidermacher also was sharp in relief, as he was unhittable. Kreidermacher pitched two innings of no-hit relief, picking up his first hold of the season. James Burok was the only Tourists reliever to allow a run on this night, though he only allowed one earned run in his inning of relief. Craig Baker worked the ninth, picking up his first save of the season. In 0.2 innings of work, Baker allowed one hit, striking out two.
Michael Paulk had a successful return to the Asheville lineup, stroking three hits in five at-bats, including a double and an RBI. Catcher Michael McKendry scored twice in the game, and also stole a base. Outfielder Anthony Jackson displayed some blazing speed by swiping two bases, and he also recorded a hit from his leadoff spot in the order. Bret Berglund and Daniel Mayora combined to drive in four runs in the contest, with Berglund hitting his first home run of the season. Mayora also tripled in the game. Shortstop prospect Hector Gomez struggled on this night, striking out three times in six at-bats. In all, the team left 13 runners on base. The team plays Savannah again on Friday.