The Mansfield Destroyers kicked off their inaugural season in the New York Collegiate Baseball League with an 8-5 victory over the Hornell Dodgers.
The Destroyers game was the first of 22 home games this season where fans can find a family-friendly atmosphere and community oriented team. Fans crowded the bleachers behind the backstop and along the first and third base sidelines. The baseball game offered a unique opportunity for fans to get outside and enjoy a spring evening. “I would probably be sitting at home watching TV, there’s not much to do around here,” one fan said. “Having a team here is great, it gives me something to do on my days off. I have the schedule hanging on my refrigerator.”
Kyle Music started on the mound for the Destroyers. Music began the game with seven straight balls and two walks against the first two batters before finding his rhythm in front of the packed opening night crowd. After the rocky start, Music was able to retire the Dodgers with three strikeouts and allow just one run while leaving two runners stranded on base.
The Destroyers wouldn’t get on the scoreboard until the bottom of the second inning when Eric Feliz crossed home plate on a Tim Carroll single.
The Dodgers jumped ahead in the third after scoring three runs off Music. After loading the bases, Music was able to earn two strikeouts and a pop-out to third and stop the bleeding.
The Destroyers’ Kipp Hillson and Pat O’Neill both scored in the bottom of the third to keep the game close.
Tyler Stout took the mound in the fourth for Mansfield and allowed one run, giving the Dodgers a two-run lead.
Carroll started the Destroyers fourth inning at bat by advancing to first on an error by the Dodgers’ shortstop. Blake Murray moved Carroll to third with a single. Murray stole second to give the Destroyers two runners in scoring position with Kipp Hillson at the plate. Hillson struck out for the Destroyers first out of the inning. Matt Williams stepped in the box and hit a single on the first pitch to drive in both Carroll and Murray to tie the game at 5-5.
The Destroyers took their first lead of the night in the sixth inning. Williams knocked in one run on a double. O’Neill followed Williams to second after a wild throw on a single to center. Murray scored the Destroyers second run of the inning on O’Neill’s hit.
Knoxville native Tyler Melko helped Mansfield extend their lead to three runs with an RBI single to right field that plated Williams.
The Destroyers help a three run lead through the final innings to secure an 8-5 victory in their home opener.
“I thought we played well defensively. We ranch bases well and we had some key hits in clutch situations. So, we are happy with all of it,” Coach Brian Hill said after the game.
Following the home win, the Destroyers took to the road over the weekend. In Friday’s game against Olean the Destroyers allowed 16 runs and recorded their first loss of the season.
There was little time to be hung up on the loss as the team traveled to Cortland Saturday for a double header with the Crush.
Kyle Smith earned the win for Mansfield, allowing three runs in four innings work from the mound.
On offense, the Destroyers notched 10 hits with Carroll, Feliz, Murray and Grant Vera recording two hits each. Mansfield put up nine runs in the win.
In the second half of the doubleheader, Mansfield led early but had to subdue a Cortland comeback to secure their third win of the season. Trailing 4-3 entering the seventh the Destroyers put up four runs and took back the lead. Cortland put two runs across the plate in the bottom half of the inning but it was too little too late.
Closing out their weekend road series the Destroyers traveled to Genesee and lost by one run to the Rapids, 6-5.
Fans had to wait a little longer than anticipated to catch the Destroyers back in action as Monday’s home match with Niagra was rained out.
Following the rainy Monday, the Destroyers were back in action Tuesday afternoon for a double-header with the Rome Generals. In the first game the Destroyers allowed seven runs and recorded their third loss of the season.
In the second half of the double-header the Destroyers rebounded with a victory. With the game tied and Joey Lowen on second, Feliz plated Lowen with a single for the game-winning RBI.
The Destroyers were back in action at Shaute Field Wednesday before hitting the road again Thursday and returning home Friday for a double-header matchup with Niagara.