Apr 12, 2010 Russ Tarby Uncategorized
Chiefs start 2010 season at home.
Some people complain that baseball is boring.
Those naysayers should have joined us on a warm and sunny April afternoon Thursday, April 8, as the Syracuse Chiefs opened their 2010 International League season at Alliance Bank Stadium.
Arguably the best opening day ever for the hometown nine, the game included enough excitement to grab everyone’s attention. There was a humongous home run by Seth Bynum and an excuse-me dinger off the right-field foul pole by Roger Bernadina, three doubles, three triples, some craftsmanlike pitching, clutch hitting — including two by Chiefs’ pitcher J.D. Martin, no less! — a brilliantly executed double-steal and a couple of rifle-like throws by rightfielder Kevin Mench.
Best yet, the Chiefs won the game in dramatic fashion beating the Lehigh Valley IronPigs 8-7 when shortstop Pete Orr lifted a majestic 408-foot fly-ball to deep center to score Mench with one out in the bottom of the ninth.
“I’ve been to 50 opening days here in Syracuse,” commented Ron Gersbacher, president of the Chiefs board of directors, “and I only remember two of them. But this one was one to remember.”
Ron was right!
And the next three games were just as memorable as the Chiefs delivered late-game offense to butcher the Steel Swine on Friday and Saturday and nearly swung the cleaver again on Sunday.
On Friday, with a frosty chill in the air, the Chiefs won 5-4 in the bottom of the tenth after first baseman Chris Duncan (son of Dave and brother of Shelley) hit a long sacrifice fly to score Orr.
The sun shone again on Saturday while rookie catcher Devin Ivany singled in the wining run after a double by Orr, a sacrifice bunt by Eric Bruntlett and an intentional walk to Chase Lambin.
Before Sunday’s game Roger Bernadina was called up to the Washington Nationals, the Chiefs parent club, breaking up the ideal outfield combination of Maxwell in center with Mench and Bernandina at the corners.
“Obviously, a Triple A, there will be changes made,” manager Trent Jewett noted. “You get numb to ’em.”
Jewett himself demonstrated an ambitious go-get-’em approach as he kept his base-runners constantly on the move. He engineered a crucial double-steal of third and second by Bruntlett and Orr with one out in the eighth inning of the opener. Throughout the weekend, Jewett called for bunts including a suicide squeeze Saturday that was nixed by a foul ball. That same afternoon he boldly confronted an umpire who made a questionable call on Justin Maxwell’s check-swing. Both Maxwell and Jewett were ejected by home-plate ump Chris Conroy.
The new Syracuse manager praised his ballplayers for their teamwork and their tenacity. “These guys have no quit in them,” he said.
No Chiefs starting pitcher has yet to earn a victory, but that’ll surely change as J.D. Martin, Collin Balester, Shairon Martis and Scott Olsen find their grooves. Ditto middles relievers like Zech Zenicola, Andrew Kown, Jack Spradlin and Doug Slaten.
For now, three different Syracuse closers have proudly notched Ws: Joel Peralta on Thursday, Josh Wilkie on Friday, and Atahualpa Severino on Saturday. Wilkie took Sunday’s 6-5 loss.
After a swing through Pennsylvania this week, the Chiefs return to ABS to face the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees at 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 21 and Thursday, April 22. Single-game tickets cost $11 for field-level seats, $8 for kids and seniors; $8 for second-tier seats, $4 for kids and seniors; and parking costs $4 per vehicle; 474-7833.