The pregame festivities were tussled a bit by the poor weather. But the crowd of 6,794 still witnessed the 2009 South Atlantic League Championship banner raised by season ticket holder Ed Rausch after a delay. They also got to see a flyover, that was planned to coincide with the national anthem, but happened out of sync, as the 108th Air Refueling Wing plane was running low and fuel and had to return to McGuire Air Force base prior to additional bad weather hitting the area. And as the opening day proceedings didn't go the way the home town folks would have liked, neither did the result of the game.
On a night delayed by rain, the momentous season opener at the home park ended as Lakewood has grown accustomed...with a loss. The BlueClaws have lost each of their last 9 home openers.
Lakewood starter Brody Colvin took the loss against the Marlins affiliate Greensboro Grasshoppers. A 7th round pick in last year's amateur draft, Colvin walked 3 batters in the 3rd inning, two of which came around to score and the third forced home a run. That was all the Grasshoppers needed, as they held the BlueClaws to just 2 runs and won the contest 3-2.
After a walk to the Grasshoppers' lead-off batter, Jose Torres, in the top of the 3rd inning, Rand Smith followed with a single off of Colvin. With two runners on, shortstop Terrence Dayleg got them closer to home a sacrifice bunt. Colvin then struck out the next batter and was close to seeing himself out of a jam, for the second straight inning, before he walked the bases loaded by issuing a free pass to Greensboro designated hitter Kyle Skipworth. The third walk of the inning, to catcher Carlos Paulino, then forced Torres home and first baseman Chad Cregar plated two more runners with a single.
New BlueClaws manager, former Major League catcher, Mark Parent said after the game that Colvin's troubles in the third inning were purely mechanical and that Colvin quickly identified the issue to the coaching staff between innings, and rectified the situation the very next inning, when he induced a hat trick of fly balls for 17-year-old right fielder Domingo Santana, in a 1-2-3 inning.
"He lost his mechanics for a second, like young guys do, and it hurt him," Parent said following the first game of the BlueClaws' tenth season. "He was feeling what he did wrong, and he corrected it."
Asked what the problem was specifically, Colvin said, "I lost focus a little bit, and kind of got outside myself. Didn't have my mechanics working that inning and they took advantage of it. Sometimes, when I get flustered, I rush to the plate and I end up falling...dropping my glove, dropping my elbow. I just gotta stay up, stay tall, stay to the plate."
As for the possibility of the weather being a factor, the players, who haven't had much experience playing in cold rain (48 degrees at the time of first pitch) lately, didn't subscribe to that notion. Parent, however, didn't care for the shivery showers. "It was too damn cold, I'll tell you that much. I'm glad I didn't have to play."
Lakewood's 2 runs came in the 4th inning when Sebastian Valle led off with a single and third baseman Adam Buschini followed that with a double. Second baseman Jeremy Barnes, who shined on defense by displaying great range, drove in the first BlueClaws run with a sacrifice fly to center. Darin Ruf, the BlueClaws first baseman, smashed a double that scored Buschini. The BlueClaws could not capitalize on errors by Grasshoppers third baseman Chase Austin on the next two batters, and the scoring was done for the defending SAL Champs, as Greensboro starting pitcher Edgar Olmos posted a 1-2-3 inning in the fifth and the relief combination of Sandy Rosario and Alejanero Ramos held them to just one hit over the final four innings of the game.
Greensboro and the BlueClaws are back at it at 4:05pm Saturday, when righty Curtis Peterson takes on Phils prosect Jonathan Pettibone.
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