The Minor League Baseball season is officially underway and Thursday’s Sky Sox opener in New Orleans delivered a classic duel between pitchers, but a late-inning Sky Sox rally fell short as Colorado Springs lost to the Zephyrs, 1-0.
LHP Christian Friedrich got the nod for Colorado Springs (0-1), and started his third consecutive Opening Day for the Sox, delivering his best start to begin the season. He started off strong with a nine-pitch first inning and retired all three batters in order. Friedrich tossed five innings, scattering four hits, allowing one run, while striking out nine batters. His only blemish was a solo-homer by Zephyr left fielder Kyle Jenson to lead off the second inning. The nine punchouts were the most on Opening Day in Sky Sox history.
Friedrich’s counterpart, LHP Brian Flynn got the start for New Orleans (1-0) and was spot on as well protecting the Zephyrs’ lead with six shutout innings, allowing just two hits and one walk, while striking out five batters. Flynn is the reigning ERA king in the Pacific Coast League.
The Zephyrs’ 1-0 lead remained for much of the game until left fielder Tim Wheeler led off the eighth inning with a triple. In the next at-bat, catcher Michael McKenry hit a sacrifice fly to center field to score Wheeler and tie the game.
However, New Orleans answered immediately in the bottom of the eighth against RHP Manny Corpas (0-1) with a lead-off single by Jensen, followed by a Justin Bour RBI double in the next at-bat. Corpas was able to get out of the inning with two fly outs and a ground out.
In the ninth, a potential Sky Sox rally began with the top of the order due up. Center fielder Jason Pridie singled to start the inning, but would later get picked off at first by Zephyr closer Chris Hatcher. Things started heating up again when shortstop Josh Rutledge drew a walked, but ended when the next two batters struck out to end the game as Hatcher notched his first save of the season.
Zephyr Arquimedes Caminero (1-0) picked up the win with two innings of relief work. He allowed the Wheeler triple and McKenry sac-fly, but finished the game with three strikeouts.
LHP Boone Logan made his first appearance on his Major League rehab assignment. Logan pitched a scoreless sixth inning striking out two, but did allow a single and a walk.
RHP Rob Scahill also pitched a scoreless frame with one strikeout and only allowed one hit, a soft line-drive single.
Rutledge and Paulsen were the other two Sky Sox players with hits, both singles.
The Sky Sox will take on the Zephyrs at 6 p.m. Friday night in New Orleans for game two of the four-game series. On the mound will be a pair of righties, Christian Bergman for Colorado Springs and Bryan Evans for New Orleans.