Thursday, April 3, 2008

Catfish drop opener, are 1-hit by Savannah

There's not much you can do when the opposing team's pitcher is putting his pitches right where he wants them. You can hope the pitch count catches up with him, and you can get some hits off the bullpen.

That's sort of what happened to the Columbus Catfish tonight.

Savannah Sand Gnats (Mets) pitcher Michael Antonini had his stuff tonight, holding the Catfish hitless through six innings, allowing just three base runners -- two on errors plus one walk -- to pick up a 2-0 win over the Catfish.

Savannah reliever Jacobo Neguilis allowed a hit to the first Catfish batter he faced in the 7th, but a fly ball and two ground balls kept the Catfish off the board. Savannah's Nicholas Waechter pitched two perfect innings to seal the win.

While the Catfish were held to that single by 3B Gregory Sexton, they did hit the ball hard a few times, but each time at someone. Or 400 feet to center field, only to find it's 415 to the wall.

Defensively, the Catfish played well. For instance, 1B Henry Wrigley made a great diving stop of a ball that, had it gotten by, could have been a double easily, and possibly a triple. Several sharply hit balls to Sexton at third and to SS Omar Luna were handled well. Sexton turned an unusual 5-3 double play, swiping a Savannah baserunner as he tried to advance on a 1-out grounder to third, before retiring the batter at first to end the inning and stop a Savannah inning from getting out of control.

In the first two innings, each with the leadoff batter making it to third base, the Catfish settled down and shut Savannah down.

However, Savannah scored in the 4th on a hit batsman and a double. And an unearned run in the 6th on an error by Luna, followed by a double.

The difference, though, was the pitching. Catfish starter Alex Cobb struck out 5 in 5-2/3 innings work, allowing one earned run on 4 hits, which would normally be good enough for a win. Catfish reliever Justin Garcia struck out 3 in 2-1/2 innings work, allowing a hit. Brian Flores pitched a perfect 9th for Columbus.

As good as that was, Savannah pitching was better tonight.

The loss drops the Catfish to 0-1. They get the chance to even their record and the series with Savannah tomorrow night at 7:00. Lefty Glenn Gibson is scheduled to start for the Catfish. He was 4-3 in 12 starts for Hudson Valley of the New York-Penn League last year, striking out 58 in 58 inning pitched.

I'm hoping for a better outcome tomorrow night.

I was pleasantly surprised by one thing: I expected a few hundred fans at the ballpark, because that's normal for Columbus. However, 1,895 fans showed up for the game. That's nearly 600 more than came to watch the Catfish clinch the South Atlantic League championship last September.

Oh, and the Catfish magic number to clinch the South Atlantic League Southern Division title remains at 71.


  1. That's the first-half title, I think you mean?!

    Having opening night on Thirsty Thursday -- simply genius!

    Still annoyed at how the city did more for Carver's championship than for the Catfish (or Kendrick's basketball team, for that matter....)

  2. Yes, that's the first-half title.
    Oh, and you made a good point about cheap beer helping with the attendance. Still, that's larger than other beer nights at the park. I'm talking off the top of my head here, but I don't recall a night that big unless they bused in troops from Ft. Benning.
    And you're quite right about the city not recognizing all the champions we've had here. I'm thrilled for Carver. The boys on that team did a great job. But the girls at Kendrick did, too. And the Columbus High volleyball team. And the individual events where students in Columbus took titles.
    It's a shame that the Catfish did more to recognize many of those than did the city. But it was neat the way the Catfish gave a SAL championship ring to Willie Bowman. 63 years working for baseball teams in the city is something, to be sure.


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