Kansas City T-Bones Sizzle in Opening Day Victory
The Kansas City T-Bones opened the 2015 American Association season with their first opening day win in six seasons. It was a great victory for the club looking to establish themselves as a true contender in the Central Division, and demonstrated that this teram can deliver key hits when needed and keep opponents from doing so as well.
The T-Bones jumped out to the 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning when Ryan Cavan doubled to begin the inning. That brought Jake Blackwood to the plate, and the former Winnipeg Goldeye singled up the middle, scoring Cavan and staking Kansas City to the 1-0 lead.
That lead held for Kansas City starter Fernando Hernandez, who kept the Lincoln Saltdogs scoreless for the first three innings. In the fourth the visitors would finally get on the board. Mitch Canham drew the one out walk and Trevin Martin followed with a single. Both runners moved into scoring position on a ground out by Mike Gilmartin, and Jeremy Hamilton drove them both home with a clutch two-out hit to center field to give Lincoln the 2-1 lead.
Saltdogs starter Jesse Smith regrouped well after giving up the first inning run, keeping the T-Bones off the scoreboard for the next five innings. He looked absolutely brilliant, retiring 12 men in a row at one point. Smith finished the evening allowing just 3 hits and a run in 6 innings of work, while striking out 3.
Smith left needing his bullpen to hold the lead, but they were unable to do so. In the bottom of the eighth, Brian Erie singled to begin the inning and moved to second on a wild pitch by Kaohi Downing. Cavan then hit a hot shot to Gilmartin who made a nice play at short, but he threw wildly allowing Erie to score and tie the game. That also moved Cavan into scoring position. Two outs later Adam Baily singled, scoring Cavan to give Kansas City the lead. Joe Rapp followed with a single that turned into extra bases when the Lincoln right fielder misplayed the ball and Bailey scored.
That would be all the run support that Kris Regas would need to close out the ninth. The first two batters in the top of the ninth reached on an error and a single but Regas remained poised, retiring the final three hitters for his first save of the season.
Hernandez pitched well for the T-Bones. He allowed 4 hits, 2 walks and 2 earned runs in 5 innings of work. Joe VanMeter (1-0) earned the victory for Kansas City with three perfect innings of relief where he struck out five Saltdogs hitters.
Following the win, Kansas City T-bones manager John Massarelli expressed satisfaction with his team’s performance. “It was how you draw it up. We had solid pitching, could have been a bit more sound defensively but I thought we made some good plays when we needed to.”
These two teams will continue their three-game series Saturday evening in Kansas City. Game time is 7:05.
By Robert Pannier