It took about five pitches for the Class A Clinton lineup to get in its groove Saturday night.
Batting second, right fielder Dario Pizzano launched a two-run homer to right field. Center fielder Guillermo Pimental followed by smacking a 2-0 offering to right for a solo shot. Then third baseman Patrick Kivlehan sent the first pitch he saw over the left-field fence.
Five pitches, 4-0, LumberKings.
Pizzano ripped another homer in the eighth as Clinton rolled to an 11-5 victory over the Burlington Bees.
"The first one was good, obviously. And then Pimentel hit one the next at-bat. And then Kivlehan hits one on the next pitch, I think. I was still putting my helmet away," Pizzano said. "There was a great reaction [in the dugout], and [Clinton starter] Matt Anderson loved it. We put up the six-spot in the first inning. It's great to get on the board like that, come out strong."
Pizzano, a three-year star at Columbia University, skipped his senior season after the Mariners selected him in the 15th round of last year's Draft. Over those three years, he hit .364 with 25 homers and 108 RBIs in 133 games and was named 2012 Ivy League Player of the Year.
Not exactly known as a baseball factory, that production at Columbia still carried over almost seamlessly into Pizzano's pro career. The Massachusetts native, who turns 22 later this month, hit .356/.442/.511 in 53 games for Rookie-level Pulaski in the Appalachian League. Then he hit .333 during a six-game stint with Everett in the short-season Northwest League. And through his first three games in the Midwest League, he's 4-for-13 (.308).
In addition to being an Ivy scholar, or perhaps despite that, it appears the bat has held true.
"That felt great. The last game, I struggled a little bit, tried to do too much. But today I simplified it, was soft on the front foot. Saw the pitch up and hit it out," he said.
Pizzano has one more semester left at Columbia to complete a political science degree after he went back to school last fall. He plans to wrap up his studies at the end of this season.
"To be perfectly honest, I always wanted that backup plan," he said. "I still thought, 'Oh, I'm gonna make it [with baseball],' but I know there's gonna be a day when I can't swing the bat anymore. That's why I wanted to go to Columbia. Whenever this fails, God forbid, with an injury or anything like that, I had to have that backup plan."
Of course, his teammates won't let him get by without hearing about it.
"With anything I say, it's, 'Oh, he thinks he knows everything, he's an Ivy League boy.' It's all in good fun," he added, laughing.
Tyler Marlette also went 2-for-5 with a homer and three RBIs, while Jabari Henry doubled, singled and scored three times for the LumberKings. Reliever Oliver Garcia (1-0) got the win, allowing a hit and a walk while striking out four over 2 2/3 innings after Anderson exited.