PULASKI,, Va. – Tuesday evening was a day of firsts for the Pulaski Yankees-the newest team of the Appalachian League. However, the Yankees were left waiting for the most important milestone: their first win. Danville spoiled Opening Night with a 9-6 victory.
The two teams treated the capacity crowd at the newly-renovated Calfee Park to fireworks in the first inning and combined for four runs in the opening frame.
Braves leadoff hitter Stephen Gaylor wasted no time in reaching scoring position. Gaylor tripled off Yankees starter Simon De La Rosa and scored on an errant pickoff throw by catcher Jesus Aparicio to plate the first run of the game, and the first run of the Braves’ season.
Danville scored twice more in the first. Designated hitter Leudys Baez scored on a wild pitch and second baseman Luke Dykstra came home on a triple.
De La Rosa’s evening ended after the first inning. The Yankee right-hander was tagged for three runs on three hits and one walk in just the one inning. De La Rosa also struck out three.
“You don’t want [your pitchers] out there stressing too much,” Pulaski Yankees manager Tony Franklin said. “It was probably first night jitters and trying too hard and not relaxing and being too quick.”
Pulaski pulled within a run with one run in both the bottom of the first and third.
Yankee center fielder Carlos Vidal led off the first with a single. Following a stolen base, Vidal scored on a single from fellow outfielder Nathan Mikolas.
Vidal found himself in the action yet again in the third inning. The Lorica, Columbia product drew a one-out walk, reached second on a balk by Danville reliever Ian Stiffler, and later scored on a single by shortstop Hoy Jun Park.
Braves starting hurler Patrick Weigel worked two innings and allowed only one run on two hits, walked none, and fanned two.
Pulaski took the lead in the fourth by way of the long ball. Right fielder Kendall Coleman cranked a two-run homer into the right-center power alley to give the Yankees their first ever lead.
However, the lead would be short lived as Danville scored five runs in the fifth off Jonathan Padilla.
Padilla entered the fifth having allowed one baserunner in three innings a work, but surrendered a leadoff single to catcher Carlos Martinez and hit the next batter, third baseman Dylan Manning. Padilla did not help his own cause and threw away the ball on a sacrifice bunt attempt, which allowed Martinez to score.
After Padilla recorded the first out of the inning by way of the strikeout, the clouds broke, and play was suspended for over 30 minutes. Padilla took the mound following the delay, but could not find his form-seven of the next nine batters reached base. When the dust settled, Danville had batted around their order and led 8-4.
“I don’t think the rain delay had much to do with it,” Pulaski Yankees manager Tony Franklin said. “We have to learn to get through it because it’s part of the game.”
Pulaski scored two times in the seventh to narrow the margin. Once again, the Yankees turned to the long ball. Aparicio led off the frame with a solo home run that cleared the left field wall near the park’s new video board. Allen Valerio, the nine-hole hitter, followed Aparicio with a double and would later score.
“We had some pretty good at bats-continued to hit the ball hard,” Franklin said. “We just didn’t find as many holes as [Danville] did.”
The Yankee bats fell silent following their seventh inning outburst. Danville relieve Bradley Roney recorded the final four outs without allowing a baserunner.
Padilla took the loss following four innings of six-run ball. Errors proved costly, as only one of Padilla’s six runs were earned. In total, the Braves scored five unearned runs.
Stiffler picked up the win for Danville. He threw two innings and allowed three earned runs.
The Yankees spread the love on offense. Eight batters recorded hits. Vidal led the team with two hits.
Danville and Pulaski clash again Wednesday night. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.