05/16/2014 10:24 PM
Rick Zagone was big for the T-Bones Friday night. (2013 File Photo by Matthew Hicks.)
By SHANE JACKSON
After dropping a tough 11-7 loss in 16 innings in the season opener to the Lincoln Saltdogs — in a game in which the T-Bones used seven pitchers — manager John Masserelli handed the ball to his lone returning member from last year’s 40-60 ball club, Rick Zagone.
“He picked up the bullpen, we wanted five innings out of our starters, and he gave us six solid innings out there,” said Masserelli.
Zagone, whom Kansas City signed at the end of last July, was brought in to strengthen the back end of the rotation. Zagone, a left-hander out of the University of Missouri, now enters his 2014 campaign as the veteran of this pitching staff in the two-slot.
The number two pitcher certainly delivered in his 2014 debut, with a strong performance that aided the T-Bones in a 3-1 victory over Lincoln at CommunityAmerica Ballpark. Zagone tossed six complete innings, allowing only two runs off three hits. Of his 75 pitches, 51 were strikes, and he walked just one batter.
“It was a good old-fashioned way to win, low scoring with pitching and defense,” Massarelli said of the game that lasted only 2 hours, 28 minutes. “I don’t know how many of those we are going to see.”
In the home opener that started Thursday night, both the T-Bones and Saltdogs had a combined 18 runs off 36 hits in the 16-inning, two-day 11-7 defeat. After the T-Bones forced extra innings with a two-run ninth inning, neither team scored for four consecutive innings. Home plate umpire Trent Delmont then made the call to suspend the game after 13 innings due to the “curfew rule,” and they resumed play prior to game two on Friday night.
“I haven’t seen something like that on opening night before, but it’s a league rule,” said Massarelli. “It did give us a chance to evaluate our pitchers.”
The T-Bones wasted no time taking the lead in the second game, scoring two runs off a pair of hits in the home half of the first. Left fielder Byron Wiley ripped an RBI double down the right field line for his first hit of the season. In the opener, Wiley struck out six times, placing him atop the T-Bones record books for strikeouts in a single game.
“It was good to see it for him, he works so hard at,” said Masserelli. “Some guys try too hard and that’s what it probably was (Thursday) night, he just wanted it so bad.”
Wiley scored the second run of the inning when designated hitter Bryan Sabatella smoked a chopper to short and reached first safely on the RBI single.
After getting to Saltdogs starter Eric Brooks in the early going, the right-handed rookie retired the next 17 batters before being getting pulled. He gave up two runs off two hits with six strikeouts.
“We got to him that first inning, which is when the pitcher is most vulnerable,” Massarelli said. “He did a real good job and settling down out there after that.”
Game three of the four game series will be Saturday night at 7:05. Tickets are available by calling the Providence Medical Center Box Office at CommunityAmerica Ballpark at 913-328-5618.