LINCOLN — Behind solid pitching, prowling defense, and a few quick bursts of power, the Saltdogs (3-1) handled the Gary SouthShore RailCats (2-3) 5-1 in front of 3,912 fans on Opening Night at Haymarket Park Monday night.
Clad in their patriotic jerseys on Memorial Day, Lincoln capitalized on consecutive singles by Brian Joynt and Jon Gaston to open the fourth inning with a Curt Smith double and Mitch Canham sacrifice fly to take a 2-0 lead.
After Gary plated a two-out run in the fifth, C.J. Ziegler – who set a league record with 30 home runs in 2013 – blasted a solo home run to left center to lead off the sixth, his first in a Saltdogs uniform.
Luis Chirinos (1-0) pitched five strong, allowing one run on four hits while striking out five and walking none to earn the win.
Jared Gaynor, Kaohi Downing and Conor Spink combined for four three-hit innings of relief to close out Lincoln’s third consecutive victory.
Smith finished 2-for-3 with two doubles, a run and an RBI.
Three of the first four Saltdogs starting pitchers (Jesse Smith, Kevin McGovern, Chirinos) have combined to throw 17 innings without issuing a walk.
The ‘Dogs and RailCats play game two of the four-game series Tuesday night at 6:35 p.m. RHP Zach Staniewicz (0-0, 0.00) is slated to take the hill for Lincoln. Radio coverage begins at 6:05 p.m. on KFOR 1240.
Tuesday night is a Throwback Tuesday presented by Casey’s. Visit any Lincoln Casey’s location to receive a $3 GA/Berm voucher for any Tuesday home game this summer.