The Southern League’s Opening Day was highlighted by some wonderful efforts by starting pitchers. Below is a recap of Thursday’s games.
Huntsville Stars 0 – Jacksonville Suns 2
Game Recap: The Suns scored their first run in the bottom of the first inning on a Kyle Skipworth sacrifice fly and never looked back. Starter Joseph O’Gara led the way for the Suns only needing 79 pitches to throw 6 and 2/3 shutout innings. Huntsville’s starting pitcher Dan Merklinger had a good start going 5 and 1/3 innings allowing 2 hits, 3 walks and 2 earned runs while striking out the Suns eight times. Jeff Bianchi and Brock Kjeldgaard had two hits apiece to give Huntsville their four hits. Peter Andrelczyk, A.J. Ramos, and Evan Reed helped preserve the shutout for the Suns.
Prospect Performances: Huntsville’s 2B Scooter Gennett and 1B Hunter Morris combined to go 0-8 on the day. Jacksonville’s RF Kyle Jensen went 1-2 with an RBI and a walk on the day. C Kyle Skipworth went 0-2 with a strikeout and a RBI
Player of the Game: Joseph O’Gara, RHP, Jacksonville, 6 2/3 IP 0 R, 3 H, 0 BB, 2 K
Tennessee Smokies 4 – Chattanooga Lookouts 1
Game Recap: Smokies starter Nicholas Struck breezed his way through the first five innings of Thursday’s contest before running into a little trouble in the sixth, which he escaped with relative ease. Struck’s one walk on the evening was an intentional walk, however he did hit two batters. The Tennessee offense was top heavy with 10 of their 12 hits coming from the 1 through 4 spots in their line-up. The Lookouts starter Allen Webster got roughed up lasting just 3 and 1/3 innings while allowing 7 hits and 5 walks that led to two runs. RF Blake Smith and C Gorman Erickson both ended the night 0-4 with 3 strikeouts for the Lookouts.
Prospect Performances: CF Jae-Hoon Ha opened up the 2012 campaign by going 2-5 with a RBI. 1B Justin Bour who now finds himself in an organizational log jam went 3-5 with a HR and 2 RBI. The Lookouts only prospect of note was LF Kyle Russell who went 0-2 with a walk.
Player of the Game: Nick Struck, RHP, Tennessee, 6 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, 10 K
Mobile BayBears 5 – Mississippi Braves 2
Game Recap: This was the most anticipated game of the Southern League schedule because of Trevor Bauer being the starting pitcher for the BayBears. Bauer did not disappoint working five innings surrendering two hits and three walks. Bauer struck out seven hitters, six of whom went down swinging. Alfredo Marte gave Bauer and the BayBears a 3-0 lead in the top of the first with his three run home-run. Braves starting pitcher Luis Ayilan had a rough outing lasting only 4 innings allowing just the 3 runs, but giving up 3 hits and 3 walks. On a positive note Ayilan was able to record four strikeouts.
Prospect Performances: Bauer was the most notable prospect in the game, but there were other prospects in the contest as well. For the BayBears 2B David Nick went 4-5 with a RBI and a SB. Mobile 3B Matt Davidson went 1-3 with 2 walks. The Braves top prospect Christian Bethancourt had a rough day going 0-4 with a K at the plate, but redeemed himself by throwing out Daniel Kaczrowski on his stolen base attempt.
Player of the Game: Alfredo Marte, RF, Mobile, 2-4 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R
Montgomery Biscuits 1 – Pensacola Blue Wahoos 3
Game Recap: Biscuits vs Blue Wahoos, how can it get any better? The Blue Wahoos jumped out to an early lead in the bottom of the first thanks to a Henry Rodriguez sac fly. The Biscuits would knot it back up in the top of the third when Hak-Ju Lee doubled home the tying run. The game would remained deadlocked until Henry Rodriguez again provided the offensive spark with a 2 run home-run in the bottom of the 8th. Donnie Joseph came in for the Blue Wahoos in the 9th and retired the final two batters with consecutive swinging strikeouts.
Prospect Performances: Montgomery’s Hak-Ju Lee went 1-4 with a RBI and 2 strikeouts. Pensacola’s two prospects Ryan LaMarre and Didi Gregorius both had good nights. LaMarre went 1-4 R, SB and Gregorius went 1-2 R, BB, CS.
Player of the Game: Henry Rodriguez, 3B, Pensacola, 1-3, HR, 3 RBI
Birmingham Barons 2 – Jackson Generals 3
Game Recap: The Generals jumped out to an early lead and didn’t allow a run to the Barons until the 9th inning. Nestor Molina started the Barons. Molina was on a tight pitch limit and only pitched 4 innings allowing 2 runs on 5 hits and no walks while striking out three. Jackson’s starting pitcher Andrew Carraway spun a beauty for the Generals and picked up the win for his team.
Prospect Performances: Generals closer Stephen Pryor had a rough outing surrendering 2 runs on 2 hits and a walk in his one inning of work, but held on to get the save. 2B Nick Franklin had a nice opening day going 2-3 and scoring a run. Birmingham prospects SS Tyler Saldino and 1B Andy Wilkins both went 0-3 with a walk.
Player of the Game: Andrew Carraway, RHP, Jackson 6 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 1 BB, 6 K