NASHVILLE, Tenn. – First baseman Hunter Morris enjoyed a solid Triple-A debut on a rainy Thursday evening at Greer Stadium, homering and driving in four runs to power the Nashville Sounds to a 5-4 victory over the New Orleans Zephyrs in their season opener.
Morris — the 2012 Southern League Most Valuable Player who finished second in the minors in RBIs a year ago– started this season seemingly where he left off, going 2-for-4 with a double and homer to go along with his four RBIs.
The Sounds were able to win their season debut despite being out-hit by the Zephyrs, 7-4, in the game. Six of the 11 hits in the contest went for extra bases.
Right-hander Tyler Thornburg, the Brewers’ #2 prospect, turned in a strong first outing of the season, striking out seven batters while allowing one run on three hits over five innings of action. He retired his final seven batters faced and departed with a 2-1 lead but took a no-decision after the Zephyrs rallied against the Sounds’ bullpen.
New Orleans starter Tom Koehler matched Thornburg’s solid effort, allowing only one hit (a two-run Morris double) in his five innings of work and also struck out seven batters while walking a pair. He allowed two runs (one earned) and took a no-decision.
Thornburg got off to a strong start by accomplishing a rare feat — striking out four batters in the first inning. The game’s leadoff hitter, Kevin Mattison, reached on a wild pitch on strike three, then the 24-year-old hurler proceeded to fan the next three Z’s hitters in succession.
Morris delivered a two-run double in his first Triple-A at-bat in the bottom of the first inning to stake the Sounds to a 2-0 lead.
Nashville leadoff hitter Josh Prince led off the Sounds’ first by drawing a walk from Koehler and moved to second when Scooter Gennett reached on a catcher’s interference call before both runners came plateward on Morris’ two-bagger.
New Orleans halved the Nashville lead to 2-1 in the third when Matt Downs led off with a double to left off Thornburg and later scored on Mattison’s one-out RBI single to left.
The Z’s tied the game with an unearned run against reliever Donovan Hand in the top of the sixth inning. Ed Lucas greeted Hand with a double to left, moved to third on a passed ball charged to Nashville catcher Blake Lalli, and knotted the contest at 2-2 when he raced home on a Ben Lasater groundout to short.
Morris wasted no time putting the Sounds back in front, drilling a massive two-run homer to right off Z’s reliever Dan Jennings in the home half of the sixth. Gennett, who preceded Morris with a single, also scored on the slugger’s first Triple-A roundtripper, which provided Nashville a 4-2 lead.
Hand (1-0) was the beneficiary of Morris’ blast, picking up the win after allowing one unearned run on two hits in 1 2/3 frames of work.
The Sounds tacked on an insurance run in the seventh against Jennings when Josh Prince delivered a well-placed opposite-field, two-out single through the right side of the infield to plate Stephen Parker, who had opened the frame by reaching on an error.
Jennings (0-1) was saddled with the loss for the Zephyrs after surrendering three runs in his 1 2/3 innings of relief work.
New Orleans threatened late, pulling within a run at 5-4 with an unearned run off Jesus Sanchez in the eighth and another run off Rob Wooten in the ninth.
In the ninth, the Z’s had a pair of runners in scoring position against Wooten after Koyie Hill singled and Downs walked before ex-Sound Jordan Brown laid down a sacrifice bunt. Mattison plated Hill with a groundout to short before Wooten brought a close to the contest by inducing a game-ending flyout from Lucas to secure his first save of the year.
The Sounds and Z’s will play game two of their four-game series at 7:05 p.m. on Friday night at Greer Stadium. Right-hander Hiram Burgos, the Brewers’ 2012 minor league pitcher of the year, will get the nod for Nashville opposite southpaw Brad Hand for New Orleans. The first 2,500 fans to the park will receive Magnet Schedules courtesy of Great Clips. Following the game, Great Clips presents the first fireworks extravaganza of 2013.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – In a game that turned out to be Cody Hawn against the Daytona Cubs, the Manatees’ slugger helped Brevard County edge out their rivals, 4-3, for an Opening Night win on Thursday night at Jackie Robinson Ballpark.
Hawn finished 3-for-5 with two doubles, drove in three runs and scored once. His evening got started with Chad Stang on base, knocking him in with a base hit to left field to put the ‘Tees (1-0) on the board in the top of the first inning.
Daytona (0-1) answered right back in their half of the frame, sending their first two batters all the way around the diamond. Zeke DeVoss split the infield and then scored on Tim Saunders’ double, with Saunders coming around on a sacrifice fly.
The score stayed at 2-1 until the top of the third, in which Stang opened up by taking a walk. He swiped second and easily crossed home on Hawn’s first two-bagger.
A 2-2 stalemate was broken in the bottom of the sixth, with Stephen Bruno smacking a double of his own, advancing to third on a wild pitch and scoring on a John Andreoli base hit.
That was the end of Daytona’s offense, but Brevard County wasn’t done. They came back and scored a pair their next time up, with Hawn driving in Nick Ramirez on another two-base hit. Greg Hopkins pushed Hawn across with the game-winning RBI after Hawn had moved to third on a wild pitch.
Eric Marzec picked up the win in relief as he threw 2.2 innings of scoreless, one-hit ball with two strikeouts.
Starter Jed Bradley (0-0, 4.50) took a no-decision after allowing two runs on three hits and three walks, while striking out four in four frames of work. Seth Harvey nailed down a save with a perfect ninth inning.
The Manatees and Cubs continue their series on Friday at Space Coast Stadium in Viera. It will be Drew Gagnon (7-3, 2.83 in 2012) taking the hill for Brevard County, while Daytona will counter with Starling Peralta (5-8, 3.44 in 2012).
Admission is just $2 and the first 2,000 fans will receive a 2013 magnet schedule picture frame presented by Health First and Via Tuscany Apartments. There will also be a post-game fireworks show.
PEORIA, IL – The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers started defense of their Midwest League crown with an extra-inning victory over the Peoria Chiefs on Thursday night. Michael Reed scored the go-ahead run in the top of the eleventh inning to give the Rattlers a 5-4 win in the season opening game for both teams.
Tyrone Taylor and Orlando Arcia set the table for Wisconsin’s first two runs in the top of the third. Taylor, who drew a four pitch walk to start the game, got aboard with an infield single in the third. Arcia followed with a double to right that hit the wall on one hop. Haniger followed with a line drive to right that carried over the head of the right fielder. Both Taylor and Arcia scored on the play to put the Rattlers up 2-0.
Peoria (0-1) got to Rattlers starting pitcher Tyler Wagner with a two out rally in the bottom of the fourth. David Washington doubled down the line at third. Jacob Wilson followed with a double to the gap in left-center to drive in Washington.
The Rattlers (1-0) got that run back in the top of the sixth inning. Clint Coulter started the inning with a walk. He tried to score from first on a double by Mike Garza but was thrown out at the plate. Garza took third on the throw home and the Chiefs decided to bring the infield in with Chris McFarland due to bat. McFarland spoiled the strategy by drilling a single through the middle of the diamond to drive in Garza for a 3-1 lead.
Tyler Wagner turned that lead over to the bullpen after he pitched a scoreless fifth inning. Wagner allowed one run on four hits with a walk and two strikeouts.
The Chiefs would rally to take the lead with two outs in the seventh inning against the bullpen. Reliever Mike Strong struck out the first two batters in the seventh inning, but issued a walk and gave up a single to the eighth and ninth place hitters in the order. That brought Michael Swinson to the plate and he singled to drive in a run to make the score 3-2. Strong looked like he would get out of the inning when he got Breyvic Valera to ground weakly back to the mound. But, Strong’s throw to first was wild and two runs scored on the play to put the Chiefs up 4-3.
Wisconsin used a pair of defensive miscues in the top of the eighth to get the game back to even. Coulter singled to start the inning and was sacrificed to second by Garza. McFarland’s grounder to third went through the legs of the third baseman to let Coulter take third base. Then, the left fielder overran the ball to let Coulter race home with the tying run.
Wisconsin almost let the game get away in the eighth and ninth innings. Strong loaded the bases with one out in the eighth inning. Taylor Wall came into the game and got an inning ending 6-4-3 double play from the first batter he faced. In the ninth, Wall retired the first two batters he faced. Then, he walked the next three batters to load the bases AND fell behind Jacob Wilson 3-0. Wall recovered to run the count full on Wilson and got him to fly out to the track in left field.
Reed started the Wisconsin eleventh inning by drawing a walk. Taylor dropped a sacrifice bunt to move Reed to second and a wild pitch with Orlando Arcia at the plate sent Reed to third. Arcia would send a slow chopper up the third baseline that was booted to let Reed score the go ahead run.
Austin Blaski, who pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the tenth, worked a scoreless bottom of the eleventh to close out the Chiefs.
Game two of the four game series in Peoria is Friday night. Damien Magnifico is the scheduled starting pitcher for the Timber Rattlers. Lefty Dail Villanueva is set to start for the Chiefs. Game time is 6:30pm. Tune in for the broadcast on AM1280, WNAM starting with the Miller Lite Pregame Show at 6:10pm.