June 6, 2009
By Michael Coppinger
VIENNA, Va. — The Senators got the season off to a great start Friday night, defeating the Western Howard County Renegades 7-2 at Waters Field.
“Usual first game with not much hitting,” Manager Chris Burr said. “Pitching dominated and our defense was solid. I thought our base running was pretty good. We took some opportunities on the bases and put some pressure on them. We really didn't drive the ball today at the plate, so offensively I look for the team to progress a lot. But I think what I'm looking for is what kind of at-bats we're going to take. Nobody was overmatched, so I think it's just a matter of time until we make the adjustments with the wood bat.”
Starting pitcher Eric Walters got off to a shaky start, allowing runners on first and second with no outs. He was able to work himself out of the jam though, retiring three hitters to keep the game scoreless. From then on, it was smooth sailing for Walters, who pitched two innings allowing no runs, on one hit with three strikeouts.
“I didn't throw as many strikes as I'd like to, walked a couple of guys, but overall I did OK,” Walters said, who pitches for South Alabama. “I'm usually pretty good at keeping it [pitches] over the plate. After this first game it's just getting back into the stride of things. “It's a pretty big adjustment going from aluminum to wood, with aluminum the ball jumps a lot harder.”
The scoreless stalemate was broken up in the second inning, off a two-RBI single by outfielder Ty Wiesemeyer. The Senators further padded their lead in the fourth inning, going up by the score of 5-0.
With a 5-0 lead entering the fifth inning, reliever Branden Weber, who was the game's winning pitcher, picked up where Walters and Greg Uzee left off, striking out the side.
“I thought our pitching was pretty good,” Burr said. “Our first set of arms we ran out there today are the arms I hadn't really seen or don't really have much idea about, so I saw some really bright spots. We've got a lot of raw talent, so we have to develop that.”
Although the Senators came out with the victory, there is still much to improve in the coming weeks.
“We're going to work on a lot of things,” Burr said. “We have to work on our situational hitting. We left too many runners at third base with less than two outs, had too many opportunities with the bases loaded and runners on second and third where we did not cash in, so that will come back to haunt you in the long run. It's just a matter of effectively progressing offensively as a team and we'll do that. You always start off slow at the plate and it takes them a while to adjust to the wood bat.”
The Senators look to start the season off with a winning streak, as they host the Carney Pirates tomorrow at 2 p.m. at Waters Field.
By Michael Coppinger