Shreveport-Bossier Captains manager Ricky VanAsselberg chose to go back to his number one starter Thad Markray for the home opener at Fair Grounds Field Tuesday, skipping the fifth starter with Monday’s off day.
Grand Prairie AirHogs manager Pete Incaviglia elected to do the same with his Opening Day starter Kieran Mattison. The decision went the Captains’ way, as Markray pitched seven solid innings, Mattison was knocked out in the fifth, and Shreveport-Bossier took a 6-3 win in front of a sellout crowd of 4,929 at Fair Grounds Field.
Markray (1-0) set the tone in the first. After falling behind 3-0 on leadoff hitter Aaron Garza, the tall righty came back to strike him out swinging. He then got David Espinosa looking and Cesar Nicolas swinging. The Captains (3-2) took that momentum to the bottom of the inning, scoring a pair of runs to take a lead they would never relinquish. With the bases loaded and two outs, Rafael Ozuna coaxed a walk off Mattison (0-2) to bring in the first run, and a wild pitch made it 2-0.
Shreveport-Bossier added to the lead in the third, when Andres Rodriguez hit a one-out double and scored on a bloop two-out hit by Ozuna. The Captains got another run in the fourth and made it 5-0 in the fifth when Rodriguez connected on a solo shot to left center, his second of the year.
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Aaron Garza homered off Markray in the top of the sixth to put the AirHogs (1-4) on the board, but the Captains scored again in the bottom of the inning before Grand Prairie scratched out a run in the seventh. Markray departed after that frame, having given up two runs on six hits, with no walks and eight strikeouts.
B.J. Litchfield gave up a run in the top of the eighth, and was relieved by Matt Petty with two aboard, but the big righthander got a soft line drive from J.B. Tucker and a flyout by Derek Nicholson to get out of trouble. Robert Romero pitched a perfect ninth for his third save, and has now saved all three Captains wins.