The Senators were stifled by former Nationals' prospect Nick Pivetta and two relievers as Reading spoiled Harrisburg's home opener, 9-0 in front of a bustling crowd of 4,386.
The Senators (3-3) struggled to get men on base as they were held to only three hits, drew two walks, and one hit batsman. Wilmer Difo fisted a ball into shallow left field in the fourth inning for what was the Senators' lone base knock for most of the night until the ninth inning when Shawn Pleffner and Kevin Keyes delivered back to back singles.
"You've got to tip your cap. He pitched pretty good," Senators' manager Matt LeCroy said. "Overall we've had a pretty good start to the season putting balls in play and being ready. Tonight, we were just a tick off on that heater."
John Simms started for the Senators and scattered seven hits over five innings. Simms (0-1) minimized damage in the second and third innings as he limited Reading to a single run in each frame. But the Fightin' Phils broke the game wide open in the fifth inning as Angelo Mora connected on a grand slam to give Reading a 6-0 lead.
"He ran into a guy (Mora) who squared him up pretty good all night," LeCroy said. "The fifth inning kind of got away from him a little bit. He battled. He just didn't make the pitch when he needed to make it."
Harrisburg reliever Gilberto Mendez posted two zeroes before the Fightin' Phils touched him up in the eighth inning for three insurance runs. The biggest blow came when Reading first baseman Christian Marrero launched a two-run home run to finish the scoring for Reading.
Bryan Harper relieved Mendez and sat down all four batters he faced, working a perfect 1.1 innings.
"I was excited for them because we got good weather for a change, a good crowd, and the excitement of our home opener but it's time to go to work now," LeCroy said.
Harrisburg continues the homestand on Friday night at 7:00 p.m. against the Reading Fightin Phils at FNB Field with Tyler Mapes on the mound for Harrisburg taking on Reading's Ricardo Pinto.