Toledo Mud Hens 2, Indianapolis Indians 1
The hero of this game was Mud Hens pitcher Chad Bell. Bell allowed one run in the first, but that was all the damage done against the lefty. Over the 52⁄3 innings that he pitched, the opposing offense was completely shut down, and he struck out 10 batters. He didn’t get much (read: any) run support during his time on the mound, though, and the win ended up going to deliver Dustin Molleken, who was on the mound in the eventful seventh inning. Shortstop Brendan Ryan and catcher Bryan Holaday drove in the two runs that clinched this one. Joe Jimenez got the most important strikeout of the game, whiffing the last batter with the bases loaded.
W: Molleken (1-0, 0.00)
L: Angel Sanchez (0-1, 10.80)
SV: Jimenez (1)
Erie SeaWolves 2, Trenton Thunder 6
Erie’s Opening Day was postponed so many times due to weather that it was on the eighth, and it looked like it was going to be a good one. Tyler Alexander, the touted control artist, took the ball for the SeaWolves and only allowed four hits through his five innings, striking out two, handing Rule 5 selection Sean Donatello a clean game. Things turned sour for Detroit’s Double-A club quickly, though, as Trenton scored four quick runs to take a commanding lead in the sixth. The Thunder kept a no-hitter alive into the eighth, when a walk from Grayson Greiner was followed by singles from A.J. Simcox and Jason Krizan. A double off the bat of Jeff McVaney scored two of the runners, but the rally was shut down by a double play. Neither club was able to post any more runs.
W: Chance Adams (1-0, 0.00)
L: Donatello (0-1, 36.00)
SV: J.P. Feyereisen (1)
Lakeland Flying Tigers 5, Tampa Yankees 4
For Spencer Turnbull, 2017 is going to be a critical year. If his start on the eighth is any indication, it will be a productive year, too. Turnbull worked five innings, striking out just as many batters, and walking three. He allowed two runs in the second, but it wasn’t an issue, as the Lakeland offense was tearing the cover off the ball in the first four innings, scoring four of their five runs. However, much like in Erie’s game, as soon as the reliever entered the game, the opposition hit the gas pedal. Tampa scored two more runs in the sixth, tying the game. Neither club was able to prevent it from going to extras, and the game dragged into the 16th, when the Flying Tigers finally managed another run, winning the game. Mark Ecker snagged the W in this one, pitching two scoreless innings, giving up only one hit and fanning four.
W: Ecker (1-0, 0.00)
L: Hobie Harris (0-1, 2.70)
West Michigan Whitecaps 2, South Bend Cubs 0
Spenser Watkins, opening the year with the Whitecaps for the third consecutive year, got the call, and did not disappoint. He held South Bend to three hits, keeping them off the scoreboard for 51⁄3 innings. In a nice change of pace, the bullpen didn't blow this game, and the Whitecaps offense was allowed to shine. The game’s top hitter for the ‘Caps was Cam Gibson, the son of the legendary Tiger Kirk Gibson. Cam Gibson crossed the plate both times West Michigan scored, once on a solo shot, another after a triple. Austin Athmann was also a key contributor, singling in three of his trips to the plate. The game may not have been a high-scoring affair, but the Whitecaps came away with the win nonetheless, and that’s what matters.
W: Watkins (1-0, 0.00)
L: Dylan Cease (0-1, 2.25)
SV: Alfred Gutierrez (1)