OK, so the Spikes weren't fearsome, but the game wasn't as bad as the 15-2 score in favor of Williamsport suggested. The Spikes opened the season with 5,593 people in the seats, their third largest crowd ever. The stadium buzzed as they announced that Tony Sanchez, the Pirates' top draft choice, would suit up and play tomorow night for the Spikes. He's supposed to play a couple games, go to a banquet in Kansas to accept an award for being the best college catcher this year, and then head off to West Virginia.
The experience was pretty good, though I failed to notice the advertised "44 inches of leg room." I'm 6'2", long legged and hefty, and the box seats weren't spacious in either direction, although I've been in worse seats. The atmosphere was very good, with up to date music, something going on between every inning, and good fireworks. But enough about the extras--I want to talk about the game.
Spikes Lineup ---
Garcia, E -- CF 1-3, 2B
Vazquez, A -- SS 2-3 BB
Byler, T -- DH 0-3 K
Morgan, K -- 1B 1-4 2B 2K
Rubinstein, D -- RF 0-2 2BB K
Parry, C -- C 0-4 K
Payne, M -- 3B 1-4 2B K
Rosero, C -- LF 2-4 K
Redron, F -- 2B 0-3 2K
I found myself impressed with a couple batters who didn't have good stats and unimpressed with a couple who put up numbers. Although he failed to record a hit, I was most impressed with David Rubinstein, who was extremely patient and drew two walks. He averaged nearly six pitches per plate appearance, the lowest number being a four pitch walk. Although his patience didnt earn him a hit, I would say taking a pitcher for 6 or 7 pitches at each at bat does a good bit of damage at this level, with most pitchers having very limited pitch counts. Craig Parry was the other--he didn't get a hit but worked it each time. Andy Vasquez did do much of the Spikes' hitting, but he wasn't patient and often swung at the first pitch. He got one pitch twice, two pitches once and then was walked with four pitches in the 8th.
Tyler Cox got knocked around a bit. After four innings I was thinking he was pretty good. The 5th ruined the thought as he allowed eight runs over two outs. Honestly, his stuff wasn't that bad--his fastball was consistently between 88 and 92, and his change was around 80 according to the on field speed gun. The defense didn't help him much, recording five errors, all of them (I'm pretty sure) while he was on the mound.
There were two bad throws to first and a couple bobbles that should have been outs. I felt that the outfielders were never in the right places as the hitters figured out Cox and sent the balls flying. I thought they were playing rather deep, but the balls kept going over their heads and they weren't able to make the play, watching them bounce off the wall and allowing a single turn into a double or a double a triple.
The next three relievers were solid, I thought. Alan Knotts was OK, although he did allow an inherited runner to score, he closed out the fifth and pitched a good 6th. Jason Erickson pitched well in his inning and then turned the game over to Marc Baca. I thought Baca was pretty nasty--his fastball was around 92 mph and his changeup made the Crosscutters look foolish. Albert Fagan came out in the 9th and was lit up, and I can't recall seeing his speed go past 82 mph.
Overall I think this team has potential. Their patient batters didn't get any luck and their fielding needs some work, but it might just have been opening night jitters and getting used to the lights. I'm looking forward to Sunday's game. This is probably the only fanpost I'll make for just a single game but it was opening night and first impressions are important so I thought I should write about it. Future Spikes updates will probably cover a couple games at a time.
FEAR THE DEER!