It didn’t take long for the Milwaukee Brewers’ top affiliate to make their presence known in Colorado Springs as the Sky Sox sent fans home happy with a 7-5 victory on opening night in front of a crowd of 3,053 at Security Service Field.
After a smooth first inning by starting pitcher Taylor Jungmann that saw him strike out his first batter of the 2015 season on a called third strike to right-fielder Kent Matthes, first baseman Matt Clark drove a 1-2 offering from Nashville starter Chris Bassitt (0-1, 5.40) over the fence in right-center field to give the Sox an early 1-0 lead. The Colorado Springs offense never looked back after the towering blast (travelling an estimated 406 feet) as they tacked on four more runs (three earned) in Bassitt’s five innings of work.
Contributions were made throughout the home team lineup as five separate players tallied at least one RBI with Clark and shortstop Luis Sardinas adding two a piece off of Sounds pitching. Not to be left out of the party, designated hitter Bryan Petersen scored two runs with a double and two walks on the evening.
While Bassitt was hurt by a pair of errors, one self-inflicted on a pick-off attempt at second that sailed into center field, he suffered through an up-and-down 82-pitch effort that gave way to the Nashville bullpen in the 6th inning. After coming on and pitching a 1-2-3 inning in the sixth, right-handed reliever Fernando Rodriguez struggled mightily in the seventh as he allowed two runs on 3 hits and a walk while recording just one out before being relieved by switch-pitcher Pat Venditte.
Sky Sox starter and top-10 Brewers prospect Taylor Jungmann benefitted from his ability to keep balls on the ground in his first start of the season. While struggling with control (four walks in four innings pitched), Jungmann was able to limit the Sounds offense to just one earned run while striking out three along the way. The hard-throwing righty was taken out early in the fifth inning in favor of veteran lefty Brent Leach after working himself into a slight jam. Leach (1-0, 0.00) worked his team through the fifth with a steady dose of looping curveballs that kept Nashville’s lineup completely off-balance after seeing Jungmann’s powerful fastball for the first four-plus innings.
Relievers Rob Wooten and Chris Perez kept Colorado Springs in the game after the offense tacked on a few key insurance runs in the latter innings. Corey Knebel came on in the 9th with a three-run lead and sealed the win after working into and out of trouble in a nail-biting finish. Knebel earned his first save with the Sky Sox after being acquired by the Brewers organization in the offseason for RHP Yovanni Gallardo.
The Sky Sox will look to make it 2-0 to start the season as John Ely (NR) is set to face off with former Cy Young award winner Barry Zito (NR) tomorrow night at Security Service Field with first pitch scheduled for 6:35pm.