Matt LeCroy couldn’t have drawn up a much better first game of the 2019 season for the Harrisburg Senators.
Other than a pesky two-run home run Bowie’s Anderson Feliz hit off reliever Ronald Pena in the eighth inning, the manager was pleased with all facets of his young ball club in its 8-4 Opening Day victory over the Baysox.
“It’s good to win any time, but this hopefully sets the tone,” LeCroy said. “These kids worked extremely hard in spring training and did a lot of things well. It carried over into tonight.”
Wil Crowe got the starting nod and fought through some early struggles before settling down nicely to go five innings and pick up his first Double-A win after failing to do so in five starts last season. The 24-year-old right-hander allowed one run while scattering three hits, walking a pair, and striking out three on 81 pitches.
“Last year I think he put himself in some bad counts,” LeCroy said. “He started out tonight behind, and then he got a big double play ball. I felt like each inning he went out, he got better. Better rhythm, more strikes, a better flow to the ballgame.”
The offense got a big jolt in the bottom of the second when Rhett Wiseman clubbed a three-run home run in his first plate appearance at this level. The outfielder picked up where he left off last season after stroking 21 homers at Potomac in 2018.
“It’s nice to get the nerves out of the way right in the first at-bat,” Wiseman said. “Going up I’m just trying to breathe, take it all in, slow the game down, and just find a barrel.”
Four innings later Chuck Taylor gave the Senators some much-needed insurance runs when he crushed a 1-2 pitch onto the left-field boardwalk clearing the bases with a grand slam.
“It was a good start,” LeCroy said. “We still have 139 more to go, but it’s always good to get that first one out of the way.”
Luis Garcia, Tres Barrera, and Wiseman all broke through with base hits in their first game at Double-A.
“Anytime it’s your first time at this level you want to get the monkey off your back and get a hit first and have good at-bats,” LeCroy said. “Hopefully they all keep solid approaches. It ain’t going to be easy, but I like where they are at right now.”
Michael Taylor went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts while playing seven defensive innings in center field during his rehab…Aaron Barrett got the game’s final three outs in his return to the mound five-plus years after his last time at FNB Field…Drew Ward connected on a pair of doubles on the first two pitches he saw and scored three runs on the night…Chuck Taylor is slated to be the team’s leadoff batter.