On Wednesday, the Bridgeport Bluefish, a charter member of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball Clubs, held their annual Media Day at the Ballpark at Harbor Yard. There, manager Willie Upshaw, general manager Ken Shepard and new league president Rick White put a positive spin on the upcoming Atlantic League season—and the prospects of Bluefish success in particular.
Then, after embarking on a five-hour bus ride from Bridgeport to Waldorf, Md., the 2014 season commenced the much the same way 2013 ended.
The Southern Maryland Blue Crabs scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning, then held on for a 3-1 victory over the Bridgeport Bluefish before 4,414 fans at Regency Furniture Stadium on Thursday night.
Both teams cruised through the first four innings. Then, in the bottom of the fifth, things broke bad for Bridgeport.
Amadeo Zazueta and John Bowden opened the fifth with singles. Then, an out later, left fielder Brian Barton, Southern Maryland's leadoff hitter, drove both runners home with a two-run double. The next batter, Jake Optiz, ripped a single to right field, sending home Barton. That gave the Blue Crabs a 3-0 advantage, and sent Bridgeport starter DJ Mitchell to the showers.
Bridgeport's only run came in the top of the ninth. Right fielder Prentice Redman led off the inning with a single to left. The next batter, Denny Almonte, walked, sending Redman to second. After first baseman Luis Lopez went down swinging on three pitches, catcher JR Towles doubled to left, driving home Redman with Almonte holding at third. With the Bluefish sending the tying run to the plate, however, James Simmons struck out swining and Michael Gilmartin grounded out harmlesslyto second sending the Bluefish to their first defeat of the season.
“We played well as a team, and it looked like we didn't have any first-game jitters,” said Barton, the Blue Crabs' hitting star of the game with 2 RBIs. “Both sides pitched well in the beginning of the game, and I was fortunate enough to get a key hit in a key situation. [With men on] second and third, the job is to get the run in and he [Mitchell] left the curveball up [in the zone].”
Southern Maryland's Ian Marshall was solid in the first Opening Day start of his professional career. The 6-3 right-hander allowed just one hit in four innings, while picking up four strikeouts and issuing just one walk. Jake Brown, the second of four Southern Maryland pitchers on the evening, picked up the win, allowing no runs and one hit in one and two-thirds innings. Closer Jim Ed Warren earned the save, even though he gave up the Blue Crabs' only run of the game.
Mitchell went 4.1 innings for the Bluefish, surrendering three runs (all earned) on seven hits while striking out two batters.
Odds & Ends
- Game 2 of the season-opening four-game series will be tonight. Lefty Brian Burres will start for Southern Maryland, while southpaw Hunter Jones takes the hill for Bridgeport. The game can be heard by clicking HERE, and first pitch is at 7:05 p.m.
- Balloting is now underway for MLB's 85th All-Star Game to be played on July 15 at Target Field in Minneapolis. To participate in the voting, click HERE.