The Harrisburg Senators defeated the Bowie Baysox 5-1 in front of 6,758 fans, the largest crowd in Senators home opening history. Jefry Rodriguez tossed six and two thirds shutout innings and Khayyan Norfork drove in three runs en route to the win.
"That was fun. Any time you can play when it's 80 degrees and it's packed, it makes it more fun when you come to the park." Manager Matt LeCroy said after the game. "It was a perfect night."
The Senators opened the scoring with a run in the second against Baysox starter Keegan Akin on an RBI single by Norfork to go up 1-0.
The club tacked on single runs again in both the fourth and fifth. In the top of the fourth, with the bases loaded and one out, Norfork bounced into a run-scoring fielder's choice. The next inning, Taylor Gushue launched a home run deep to left, his first homer in a Senators uniform and at the Double-A level.
Rodriguez (1-1) threw six and two-thirds scoreless frames while striking out four and walking two. The start was the deepest a Senators starter has thrown through the first seven games of the season.
"(Everything) was working (for Rodriguez) tonight. He threw the ball over the plate and mixed in a curveball and change up." LeCroy assessed. "He did a nice job getting shut down innings after we scored. I was really pleased. He did a really nice job."
Akin (0-2) received the loss after allowing three runs in five innings.
Bowie scored their lone run of the game in the top of the eighth against reliever Austen Williams when Austin Hayes singled in a run. With two runners on and one out, Roman Mendez induced an inning ending double play to preserve the 3-1 lead.
The Senators plated their final two runs in the in the eighth. With Kelvin Gutierrez at second after a single and a stolen base, Norfork singled him in to plate the first run of the frame. With Daniel Johnson at the plate, Norfork advanced to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a throwing error by catcher Martin Cervenka.
Bryan Harper tossed a scoreless ninth inning to secure the 5-1 victory in the home opener.
Norfork's three RBI led the Senators, and he along with Gamache and Gutierrez finished with a pair of hits. Norfork is now 4-7 this season with five RBI. "Every time he plays, he seems like he's able to do something to help you win." LeCroy noted. "He had a really great year last year and he's started off really well this year."
The Senators and Baysox play game two of the series Saturday night. Luis Reyes takes the ball for the Senators opposite Bowie starter Hunter Harvey. First pitch is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. at FNB Field.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.