Everything was in place for a successful season opener for the Pulaski Mariners Tuesday night. Over 1,300 fans came out to Calfee Park as the Mariners, defending champions of the Appalachian League East, played host to the Danville Braves. After all the pre-game festivities ended, including the introduction of new mascot "Slider" the fox and a ceremonial first pitch from a masked "Barack Obama", the teams took to the field for the first time on a gorgeous June evening.
Pulaski jumped out to a 2-1 lead after four innings and chased off the Braves' starting pitcher Julio Teheran after just 3 1/3 innings. The rest of the night could not have gone worse for the home team in an 8-3 loss. The Braves tied the game at two in the fifth inning and then scored four runs in the top of the sixth, including a base-clearing triple by SS Mycal Jones to take a 6-2 lead they never relinquished. Jones was drafted by the Braves in the fourth round of this year's draft out of Miami-Dade CC South.
Left-handed pitcher Chris Masters picked up the win in relief of Teheran, strking out eight Mariners in 3 2/3 hit-less innings. The loss was charged to Pulaski starter Nolan Diaz who was responsible for five runs in 5 1/3 innings of work. In total, the Mariners struck out 18 times while committing too many defensive breakdowns resulting in four errors. Three were charged to Mariners 3B Vincent Catricala.
Mariners first-year manager Jose Moreno seemed to take the loss in stride, saying his team just took too many good fastballs down the middle and would have to be more aggressive at the plate. This three-game series wraps up on Thursday night.