Joe Musgrove and Daniel Norris were both highly-touted draft picks in 2011 and they showed why on Tuesday night. In the 2012 season opener, each pitcher turned in four brilliant innings apiece as the Bluefield Blue Jays downed the Bristol White Sox 7-2 at Boyce Cox Field.
Musgrove drew the start for the Baby Birds and breezed through the first four frames. The 46th-overall selection from 2011 set down nine in a row and 11 of the 13 men he faced.
Norris made his professional debut in relief of Musgrove in the fifth inning. The Johnson City, TN native, pitching in front of many family and friends, retired all 12 men he faced, five via strikeout, to get through the eighth. The southpaw left as he came in, to an impressive ovation from the crowd made up of many that made the 25-mile trip from his hometown.
The run support came early and often. Alex Azor led off with a single in the first inning against Bristol starter Jake Cose and Christian Lopes followed that with a booming homer to left that gave Bluefield a quick 2-0 lead.
The Jays rallied again in the top of the third, loading the bases with two out. Chris Peters worked a walk to bring home one run before Dickie Joe Thon knocked the big hit of the night, a three-run double that made it a 6-0 game. Cose (0-1) was knocked out after three innings, allowing six runs on five hits with four walks allowed.
That would be more than enough scoring for Musgrove, who gave up one run on two hits in his four innings of work, striking out five without walking a man. Norris (1-0) also struck out five with no walks in his four perfect frames. That earned him the victory and capped his special night.
Julio Carmona gave up a Bristol run in the ninth, but Colby Broussard induced a bases-loaded double play that ended the game.
The consistent offensive attack featured eight starters that notched at least one hit. Returning first baseman Art Charles knocked a double and a triple and scored a run. Santiago Nessy and Carlos Ramirez also had two hits apiece.
The Bristol bullpen pitched well as Leopoldo Sanchez, Taylor Thompson and former Arkansas and USC quarterback Mitch Mustain held Bluefield to one run over the final six innings.
The series continues on Wednesday night with the middle game of three in Bristol. Bluefield will have the piggybacking duo of righties Kevin Comer and Tom Robson. Left-hander Jefferson Olacio gets the ball for the BriSox. First pitch at DeVault Memorial Stadium is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.
Fans can listen live to tomorrow's broadcast on BluefieldJays.com by clicking the "Listen Live..." tab under the Multimedia tab.
After the three-game series ends on Thursday night, the Baby Birds come home to face Johnson City in a rematch of last year's Championship Series. Tickets for all Blue Jays home games are available at the Bowen Field box office, the Tickets page on BluefieldJays.com, and by phone at 304-324-1326.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.