Five run deficit too much for Sacramento, but new River Cats shine
SALT LAKE CITY, UT – Sacramento River Cats baseball kicked off the 2016 season in Salt Lake against the Bees at Smith’s Ballpark Thursday night. 2015 Pacific Coast League innings-pitched leader Ty Blach got the nod for the season opener, but an early deficit was too much for the offense to come back from as the River Cats fell to the Bees 5-2.
Sacramento fell behind early as Salt Lake jumped out to a 5-0 lead through five innings. Blach (0-1, 7.94) struggled with his command in his first start of 2016, walking three batters and giving up five runs – all earned – on seven hits in five and a third innings of work. In total, he threw 47 of his 82 pitches for strikes. In 2015, Blach averaged 66% strikes over the course of the season and didn’t walk a batter until his fifth start (26 and two thirds innings pitched).
On the other side of the ball, the River Cats offense struggled to get anything going against Bees starter Nate Smith (1-0, 1.59), who struck out five and allowed just two hits in five innings. Sacramento eventually got to Smith in the sixth, scoring two runs on a Conor Gillaspie single and another on a Salt Lake error, but were unable to extend the inning around a double play and a lineout. The Bees committed two errors on the night, but managed to limit the damage to just the two runs (one earned).
Those runs would be the last of the game, as both bullpens allowed just three total hits in five and two thirds combined innings. Vin Mazzaro and Philip McCormick were excellent in their River Cats debuts, posting two and a third scoreless innings. Also shining in their first game with Sacramento were second baseman Ramiro Pena (1-for-3, 2B), Gillaspie (1-for-4, RBI), and Hak-Ju Lee, who recorded five putouts at shortstop and scored a run.
The River Cats will return home to Raley Field on Friday, April 15, when they host the Salt Lake Bees. The two teams will face each other 12 times in their first 24 games this season, including the next three nights. Sacramento will take the field behind 2015 PCL ERA champ Clayton Blackburn (0-0, No ERA). Opposite Blackburn will be the Bees right-hander Yunesky Maya (0-0, No ERA). First pitch is set for 5:35 p.m. and the game can be heard live online at rivercats.com and on the air on ESPN 1320.
Match Recap Courtesy of the Sacramento River Cats Media Relations