After being snowed out on Friday, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs and Pawtucket Red Sox opened up the 2018 season Saturday at McCoy Stadium.
Zach Eflin (1-0) took the ball for the Pigs and was opposed by Justin Haley for the PawSox. Two runs in the top of the fourth inning and solid pitching propelled Lehigh Valley to the 3-1 victory.
The clubs traded zeros in the first two innings but were able to plate their first runs of the year in the third. In the top half of the inning Logan Moore led off the top of the third with a walk and was advanced to second on an Alexi Amarista groundout. A single and a stolen base by Roman Quinn put runners on second and third with Danny Ortiz at the plate. Ortiz then sent a fly ball to center field that allowed Moore to race home and put Lehigh Valley up 1-0.
The lead would be short lived though as Pawtucket scratched across a run in the bottom half of the inning. A walk and a hit batsman put runners on first and second with one down in the inning. Ivan De Jesus Jr. followed with an RBI single to left field plating Dan Butler and tying the game up.
Despite surrendering the lead in the third, the Pigs punched right back and threw up a crooked number to regain the lead against Pawtucket reliever Kyle Martin (0-1). The Pigs loaded the bases with no outs and no hits in the top of the fourth. Jesmuel Valentin was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning before Andrew Pullin reached on an error and Matt McBride walked. With one away, Amarista singled through the right side scoring Valentin and Pullin to put Lehigh Valley up 3-1.
Eflin kept the Red Sox bats quiet in his five innings of work, posting zeros in both the fourth and fifth. The righty allowed just the one run, one hit and struck out five before handing the ball over to Ranfi Casimiro. Casimiro did allow three base runners in his one inning of work but was able to keep Pawtucket from cutting into the Pigs lead in bottom of the sixth.
Austin Davis, like Casimiro made his Triple-A debut on Opening Day coming out of the pen and recording a one-two-three seventh inning. Davis got all three batters he faced to pop out for a smooth and easy Pigs debut. Manager Gary Jones went to another lefty seeing his first Triple-A action in the bottom of the eighth as Zac Curtis tossed a scoreless inning. With a runner on third and two down, Curtis darted a full count pitch on the outer half of the plate to strike out Sam Travis to end the fram.
Pedro Beato, who recorded an IronPigs-record 33 saves in 2017, fanned Ramon Flores, Jeremy Barfeild and Anuery Tavarez to close out the ballgame and give the Pigs their first win of 2018.
Lehigh Valley will send Tom Eshelman to the mound on Sunday as they go for the two-game series sweep against Pawtucket. First pitch from McCoy Stadium is scheduled for 1:35 p.m.
With the Pawtucket series being shortened to just two games, the Pigs open with five road games between Pawtucket (Saturday-Sunday) and Scranton (Monday-Wednesday) before returning to Coca-Cola Park for the home opener on April 12 against the Louisville Bats. Tickets to all IronPigs home games are available here.
The 2018 Season is the IronPigs' 11th season at Coca-Cola Park and 11th as the top affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. Fans can get closer to the team than ever before with a Bacon, USA membership -- a year-round IronPigs experience pass featuring numerous amenities such as savings on parking at games and at the Majestic Clubhouse Store at Coca-Cola Park, on-field VIP access to watch batting practice, access to the annual holiday party, and more. For more information, visit ironpigsbaseball.com or call (610) 841-PIGS (7447). Memberships and group outings are on sale now (click here for more information).
The 2018 IronPigs baseball season is presented by Capital BlueCross.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.