RockHounds Power Way to Win
The Midland RockHounds' offense was in mid-season form during their 2015 season opener. Backed by a 10-run, nine-hit, 13-walk barrage, the RockHounds beat the Northwest Arkansas Naturals by a score of 10-5.
Oakland A's top prospect Matt Olson had a big Double-A debut. He homered in his first at-bat and went two-for-three with two walks and two RBI. He also scored three times.
Olson had plenty of help in the Midland line-up. Chad Pinder also went deep for his first Double-A homerun. Colin Walsh reached base four times ahead of Olson, walking three times and doubling. Chad Oberacker collected a triple and a single and drove-in three. Ryon Healy had two hits and two RBI, while Bruce Maxwell walked three times and Carson Blair had a hit, two walks and two runs scored. Every Midland batter reached base at least once.
Starter Zach Neal had a solid first outing of the season. The right-hander scattered six hits in five innings, allowing two runs. One run came on a solo homerun by Kansas City Royals' prospect Hunter Dozier. Dozier's homer was one of four hit off of Midland pitching on the night, as the ball was flying out of Citibank Ballpark. Mike Bianucci homered twice, once off Neal and once off reliever Ryan Doolittle.
Doolittle allowed solo homeruns to the first two batters he faced before settling down to retire the next three batters. Seth Frankoff worked two innings and allowed a solo homerun. He struck-out three. Ryan Dull worked the ninth and allowed just a single in a scoreless frame.
2014 Texas League All-Star Chris Jensen gets the start on Friday for Midland.
Covey Sharp as Stockton Grabs Opener
Right-hander Dylan Covey had an uneven 2014 season, but he got the 2015 campaign off on the right foot with an outstanding Opening Day start. Covey allowed just two hits and a walk in five shutout innings to earn the win in the Ports' 3-1 victory over the Inland Empire 66ers.
Covey once again squashed all of the bugs on the field, recording nine groundouts and no flyouts. He also struck-out four. Covey worked around two errors, one by shortstop Franklin Barreto and the other by Covey himself.
The Stockton bullpen took the torch from Covey and brought the game home. Andres Avila threw two perfect innings, striking out one. Jonathan Joseph then worked the eighth, allowing just a double. Brendan McCurry ran into a little trouble in the ninth. He allowed three singles and a run -- equaling the runs-allowed total from his entire 2014 season -- but he retired the last two batters with two runners on base and a run in to secure the win.
Centerfielder J.P. Sportman got the start in the lead-off spot and he ignited the Ports' offense with a double and a triple. He also walked and scored a run while driving-in two. B.J. Boyd also had a triple and he added a single in his High-A debut. Rehabbing A's outfielder Josh Reddick went 1-for-3 with a single, an RBI, a walk and a strike-out. Michael Soto and John Nogowski picked up the other two Ports' basehits.
Barreto had a rough debut with the A's. He had an error and went 0-for-4, including a double-play.
Tim Atherton gets the start on Friday for Stockton.
Nashville's Late Rally Falls Short
The Nashville Sounds scored three times in the last two innings and had the tying runs in scoring position in the ninth inning, but their rally fell short in their 7-5 loss to the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. Chris Bassitt had a rough debut with the Sounds, allowing five runs (four earned) in five innings.
Bassitt never got comfortable on the mound on Thursday. He allowed single runs in the first and second and three in the fourth. That fourth inning began on a catcher's interference call against Bryan Anderson and later included a throwing error by Bassitt on a pick-off attempt. Bassitt allowed six hits (including a homer) and two walks. He struck-out four and had 47 strikes in 81 pitches.
Fernando Rodriguez also had a rough 2015 debut. He allowed two runs in 1.1 innings. Rodriguez gave up three hits and a walk and he struck-out three. Switch-pitcher Pat Venditte stranded two of Rodriguez's runners and worked 1.2 scoreless innings in his Nashville debut. He struck-out two and walked two.
First baseman Max Muncy had a solid Triple-A debut. He walked twice and had a triple and an RBI. Joey Wendle had a double and a single and two RBI in five at-bats. Matt Angle, Kent Matthes, Anderson and Jason Pridie all had two-hit games. Niuman Romero walked three times and drove-in a run.
Down 7-2 in the top of the eighth, the Sounds rallied for two runs. In the ninth, Wendle grounded to first to drive in a run with one out to bring the Sounds within two. Romero then walked and the Sounds had the bases loaded with two outs, but Angle grounded out to first to end the game. Nashville was 4-for-14 with runners in scoring position.
Billy Burns, sent down by the A's on Wednesday when Oakland added Cody Ross to the roster, entered the game for Nashville in the ninth as a pinch-runner. Nashville officially lost outfielder Alex Hassan on Thursday. Hassan was designated for assignment by the A's on Wednesday to make room for Ross on the 40-man roster. Hassan was claimed by the Texas Rangers on Thursday and optioned to Triple-A Round Rock. Burns took Hassan's place on the Nashville roster.
Barry Zito will take the hill as the starter for Nashville on Friday night.
Beloit Rained Out
A tornado touched down near the stadium of the Clinton LumberKings, causing the cancellation of the season opener between the LumberKings and the Beloit Snappers. A doubleheader is scheduled for Saturday and there will be a 6:30pm CST start on Friday, weather-permitting. Brett Graves was scheduled to be the Opening Day starter for Beloit and will get the ball on Friday instead.