HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – A thrilling season opener at Joe W. Davis Stadium went to the BayBears after Gerardo Parra's diving catch with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning preserved a 5-4 win over the Stars.
Parra's diving grab helped Daniel Schlereth (S, 1) pick up his first professional save in his Double-A debut. It didn't come easy for Schlereth, as the Stars (0-1) put runners on second and third with one out, but Schlereth fanned Shane Justis before Parra's heroics on a line drive off the bat of third baseman Vinny Rottino.
The BayBears (1-0) held the lead early as they used three walks in the first inning - including one to Bryan Byrne with the bases loaded - to go up 1-0. Huntsville quickly bounced back with their only two hits off starter Matt Torra (1-0), who tossed five solid innings. Adam Stern singled and scored on a triple by Justis. The Stars took their only lead when Justis came home on a groundout off the bat of Rottino.
In the eighth, Justis doubled and scored on Freddy Parejo's fielder's choice. Then, with two outs,
pinch-hitter Kevin Melillo rocketed a Daniel Stange pitch to right-center that centerfielder Evan Frey
caught a step shy of the warning track.
"When I looked up, the centerfielder was shading me toward left-center," Melillo said. "But I think the wind may have pushed it back toward him. But he chased it down."
"Definitely, that was the difference in the game, those two plays," Stars manager Bob Miscik decided, referring to Parra and Frey's grabs. "I thought they were both [going to fall].
In the third, the BayBears knotted the score at 2-2 with an RBI single by Byrne to bring home James Skelton. Byrne finished the game 2-for-3 with a walk and three RBI.
"That was exciting," Byrne said after the game. "They battled back tonight, but
we grinded out a win and that's a great way to start the season."
Evan Frey touched the dish in the fifth when a sac fly from Cyle Hankerd gave the BayBears a 3-2 advantage. Frey also got things going with his speed in the seventh, as he reached on an error, then took second on a balk, third on a steal, and home on an errant throw by catcher Jonathon Lucroy to make it 4-2. The BayBears added another tally in the seventh on Byrne's third RBI of the night, a single to bring home Skelton.
Huntsville nudged closer with a Lucroy dinger in the seventh and another run in the eighth off reliever Daniel Stange before Schlereth and Parra slammed the door in the ninth.
The BayBears battle the Stars in game two of their series on Friday night with Hector Ambriz getting the start against southpaw Chris Cody. The BayBears' home opener is Tuesday, April 14th when the Carolina Mudcats come to town. Call (251) 479-BEAR for tickets or log on to www.mobilebaybears.com.
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