Normally, a season-opening baseball game shows just what a team has trouble with and what they need to work on. The Orange Pioneers showed nothing like that in their opener.
Orange exploded for six runs in the first inning and Luke Wolford allowed just one hit on the mound as the Pioneers topped the visiting Lancaster Golden Gales 10-0 in five innings Monday at Orange High School.
“It’s good to get started,” Orange coach Phil Callaghan said. “The sun’s out and we couldn’t ask for better weather. It was just a great way to get things started.”
And Orange (1-0) made sure fans didn’t have to stay long. The Pioneers and Lancaster (0-1) played just over four and a half innings in a tidy 75 minutes, much of that due to the Wolford‘s prowess on the hill.
The senior right-hander threw just 69 pitches in his five frames, including 45 for strikes. Wolford worked 3 2/3 perfect innings before giving up a single to left center to Lancaster’s Nick Thompson, but finished the game allowing just the one hit with no walks and eight strikeouts.
“Luke pitched a great game, and that’s what we’re hoping for him all year,” Callaghan said. “He comes out, he throws strikes and he battles, and he did a great job for us tonight.”
The Pioneer offense started things on the right track in their six-run first. Wolford helped his cause with a lead-off double to the left field fence, shortstop Paul Trick followed with a walk and catcher Brai Beckel was hit by a pitch from Gales’ left-hander Ryan Robertson to load the bases.
First baseman Brady Harris then delivered a one-out, two-run single to right center to plate Wolford and Trick, and Beckel scored afterward on a wild pitch. Designated hitter Billy McCague was hit by another pitch and Harris stole third before a walk to right fielder Anthony Mancini reloaded the bases.
Third baseman Cody McCague then hit a sacrifice fly to right to bring Harris home, and after Mancini stole second, second baseman Alec McCurry sent a single through the left side of the infield, scoring both Billy McCague and Mancini.
“We got some hits mixed in with some guys getting hit and some walks,” Callaghan said. “We ran the bases pretty well, too, so it was a good way to start the season.”
After that, when Wolford wasn’t fanning runners, the defense did the rest. The Pioneers had no errors in the game and finished with seven assists to go with their 15 putouts.
“Cody McCague made his first start at third tonight and did a great job,” Callaghan said. “He handled the plays he was supposed to. It was a good defensive game to go with the good pitching.”
Orange would score again in the fourth. Wolford singled through the left side, forcing Lancaster coach Jason Vest to bring in right-hander Chris Wooten to relieve. Wolford took second on a wild pitch, went to third on a ground out from Trick, then scored when Beckel hit a single through the left side.
The Pioneers closed it out in the fifth. Harris was hit by a pitch, the fourth hit batsman of the day, then stole second before Billy McCague singled up the middle to send him home. Left fielder Lucas Poole ran for his designated hitter, and Mancini reached on an error at third base.
Ryan Black pinch-ran for Mancini, and both runners moved up a base on a wild pitch. Cody McCague then ripped a double into the gap in left center field to score Poole and Black, ending the game.
Wolford and Alec McCurry had two hits apiece, Wolford a double and single and McCurry two singles with two RBIs. Cody McCague finished the night with a double and team-high three RBIs, while Harris added his two-run single. Billy McCague and Beckel each had a single plus one RBI.