Oakland A's MLN: Beloit Wins Opener

The Beloit Snappers finally got their season underway, Barry Zito returned to the mound and more on a busy Friday in the Oakland A's system.

Snappers Win Opener

A day late, the Beloit Snappers finally got their 2015 season underway. Beloit celebrated with a 4-3 win over the Clinton Lumber Kings.

Beloit had their bats rolling in the first inning. Brett Vertigan opened the game with a single and he moved to third on a double by Yairo Munoz and then scored on a balk. Munoz came around to score on a Joe Bennie ground-out, and the Snappers had a 2-0 lead in the first. The lead quickly evaporated in the bottom of the frame, as the Lumber Kings started the their season with two straight triples and a double. Starter Brett Graves stopped the bleeding at two runs, however, preserving the tie.

Graves would settle in after that rough first inning. He would allow only one more run in five innings, finishing with a line of three runs allowed on five hits and two walks. He struck out three.

Graves left the game in the sixth with the Snappers losing, 3-2, but Beloit rallied for two runs in the top of the seventh to regain the lead. Sandber Pimentel led-off the inning with one of his two walks. Max Kuhn followed with a single, moving Pimenetel to second. After a Shawn Duinkerk sacrifice bunt and an Edwin Diaz strike-out, Trent Gilbert singled to drive home the tying and winning runs.

Corey Miller earned the win with two scoreless innings in relief. He allowed two hits and a walk and he struck-out one. Mike Fagan earned the save with two scoreless innings. He struck-out three, walked one and allowed one hit.

Vertigan led the way offensively with three hits in four at-bats out of the lead-off spot. Munoz had two hits in his full-season league debut. The Snappers and Lumber Kings will play a double-header on Saturday to make-up for Thursday's rain-out.

Zito Returns, Sounds Rally Late for First Win

The story before Friday's Sounds-Sky Sox game was the return of Barry Zito, but, as often is the case in Colorado Springs, the offense grabbed all of the post-game headlines. The Sounds rallied late to earn their first win of the 2015 season, 12-8, over the Sky Sox.

Zito had an up-and-down first start for Nashville. He was tagged with five runs allowed in 4.2 innings pitched, but only three of those runs were earned. He struck-out four and walked one, but he allowed a three-run homerun with two-outs in the bottom of the fifth to Ben Guez. That homerun ended Zito's evening. He allowed 10 hits. Zito threw 88 pitches, 55 for strikes.

It was a back-and-forth game. Colorado Springs had a 2-0 lead going into the top of the third, when Nashville rallied for four runs off starter John Ely. The Sounds tacked on two more in the fourth to take a 6-2 lead. That lead shrunk to 6-5 on Guez's homerun in the fifth. In the sixth, the Sky Sox took back the lead with three runs off of reliever Kevin Whelan. The big blow in that inning was a two-run homerun by Jason Rogers.

Alden Carrithers singled home Niuman Romero in the seventh to pull Nashville to within a run at 8-7. In the eighth, Nashville rallied for five runs to take the definitive lead. The Sounds tied the game when Billy Burns scored on a wild pitch. Bryan Anderson then doubled home two runs to give Nashville the lead. A Jason Pridie RBI groundout and another run-scoring wild pitch would give the Sounds their final runs.

In his first start of the season, Burns had three hits and two runs scored in six at-bats. Muncy went 3-for-4 with two walks, while Joey Wendle and Romero each had three hits. Carrithers and Anderson each had two hits and Pridie had three RBI. Every batter in the Sounds' line-up had at least one hit.

Reliever Ryan Cook earned the win with two scoreless innings. He allowed a hit and a walk and he struck-out one. Cook threw 33 pitches, 19 for strikes. Chad Smith worked a scoreless ninth, walking two and striking out one.

Midland Moves to 2-0

In the first inning, Midland starter Chris Jensen allowed two runs and Northwest Arkansas starter Glenn Sparkman allowed three runs, and it looked like Friday's game was going to be a high-scoring affair. As it turned out, that 3-2 score would hold for the rest of the game.

Jensen allowed a two-run homer in the first inning to Jorge Bonifacio, but otherwise had an solid 2015 debut. He allowed just those two runs on three hits and two walks in six innings. Jensen struck-out three and recorded five outs on the ground.

Nate Long, pitching out of the bullpen, threw two scoreless innings in his 2015 debut. He didn't allow a base-runner and he struck-out four. Bobby Wahl earned a save in his Double-A debut, throwing a hitless inning in the ninth. He walked one and struck-out one.

Shortstop Chad Pinder gave Midland all of the offense it would need on Friday. With Bobby Crocker and Matt Olson on-base and two-outs in the first, Pinder hit his second homer in as many games, giving Midland that 3-2 lead. The RockHounds would have only five hits in the game. Crocker, Colin Walsh, Ryon Healy and Chad Oberacker were the other hitters who collected base-hits.

Stockton's Bats Quiet in Loss to Inland Empire

The Stockton Ports managed just one run on five hits in their 5-1 loss to the Inland Empire 66ers on Friday night. Tim Atherton had a strong first start of the season, but he was stuck with a no-decision, as the Ports' bullpen struggled.

Atherton allowed only a run on two hits and one walk in five innings on Friday. As soon as he departed, the 66ers pounced on relievers Corey Walter and Tyler Hollstegge. Each were tagged with two runs allowed in their one innings of work. Sam Roberts threw a scoreless eighth inning, but the Ports weren't able to rally in the ninth.

Second baseman Branden Cogswell was the only Stockton batter to collect more than one hit. He had two hits in five at-bats and the Ports' only RBI of the night. Justin Higley had a hit and a walk in three at-bats and he stole a base in his 2015 debut. Franklin Barreto picked up his first hit as a member of the A's organization, going 1-for-4. B.J. Boyd had the other hit for Stockton.

Rehabbing A's outfielder Josh Reddick went 0-for-4 with a strike-out in his second game with Stockton. He is expected to return to the A's roster on Sunday.

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