Archie Bradley didn't get the win, but his Opening Day start definitely served as a good jumping-off point for the rest of the year.
The D-backs' No. 2 prospect went five innings in his full-season debut, giving up just one run on four hits. That was not enough to help Class A South Bend, however, as the Silver Hawks fell to the Hot Rods, 3-0.
"I'd feel a lot better with a win, but overall, it felt pretty good," Bradley said. "It felt good to play in a game that means something. No Spring Training, no one inning here or there. Play for a team and compete for something in front of a live crowd."
The 19-year-old right-hander struck out seven while walking one in his second professional start. He also did well keeping the ball on the ground, generating seven ground-ball outs compared to one flyout.
"The curveball definitely was working," Bradley said. "It was nice to mix the changeup in there to give them something else to look at -- some guys were sitting on the fastball. But the curveball was working the best, and I had pretty good command most of the night."
Bradley was limited to just 40 pitches, 34 of which he threw for strikes.
"I'm used to finishing games, but I understand there's a reason there's a pitch count," he said. "I try to look at the bigger picture, but I definitely would've liked to go longer.
"I really just tried to establish the fastball and get ahead. I hate walking people. It's a big deal for me to get ahead and pound the zone."
The only run Bradley surrendered came in the third after he gave up a leadoff double to Jake Hager. The Oklahoma native then followed with a wild pitch that allowed Hager to move to third, though he recovered to strike out Tyler Goeddel and induce a groundout by Ryan Brett. With two outs, however, Todd Glaesmann sent an RBI ground-ball single up the middle.
"The one mistake I made tonight was I got [Glaesmann to] 3-0 and then got him to 3-2, and with a base open, I threw a fastball. I felt like I should've thrown a curveball. He hit the fastball up the middle, but I got out of [the inning] with minimal damage considering I had a guy on third with no outs."
Drafted with the seventh pick in 2011 out of Broken Arrow Senior High (Okla.), Bradley struck out four in two scoreless innings for Rookie-level Missoula last year. He had committed to the University of Oklahoma to play football and baseball before signing with the D-backs.
"I just felt like it was best for my future," Bradley said. "Me and my family took a long time to weigh out the best options and where I was baseball-wise and what I wanted to do in life, and pro ball was best for me."
Looking toward the rest of the year, Bradley said his goals are based on his personal improvement rather than reaching a certain level in the system.
"Just to develop more as a pitcher," he said. "Win or lose, whatever, there's always something to improve on. Really just to learn how to pitch. Not everything's about strikeouts. Get groundballs, flyballs and learn to throw the changeup consistently."
Taylor Siemens relieved Bradley in the sixth, allowing two hits over two scoreless innings. Matt Sample then came on and surrendered two runs in his only frame.
The pitching on the Bowling Green side proved too much for the Silver Hawks to overcome as four hurlers combined to toss a five-hit shutout. Starter Jake Floethe led the way, yielding three hits and striking out six en route to the win.