Despite being out-hit 10-6, the Washington Township Senators celebrated a solid opener, besting the Pitman Blaze by an 8-3 margin on a chilly morning at gorgeous Alcyon Park in Pitman. 2012 Pitcher of the Year John DiPietro picked up the victory with five solid innings of work.
Aided by some shaky Blaze defense, the Senators got off quickly against starter Steve Maloney, putting up a five spot in the top of the first. Angel Rivera drew a walk to start the contest, stole second, and moved up to third on Kurt Ley's infield groundout.
2012 Division MVP Mark Alessandrini followed with his second consecutive double off Maloney (the last coming back in 2012), driving Rivera across. Dan Laudisio then reached on an infield error, and Miles Reader smoked an RBI single to left to make it 2-0.
After a walk to Hector Colon, Bobby Wood chipped a tapper in front of the mound. Maloney fielded the ball, but threw wildly to the plate as two more runs scored. Gabe Mastrangelo, making his 45+ debut, followed with a grounder to shortstop to plate a fifth run.
The Blaze had a swift response, putting up a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning, but things could have been a lot worse for the Nats.
Ex-Senator standout Dan Mitten blooped a wind-blown single into right-center, and Dave Burns chopped a single into shallow left. Jim Jones reached on an error, and Joey Carstarphen singled to left to get the Blaze on the board. But DiPietro then retired Dan Jones on an infield pop and whiffed Pat Quinn for the second out, as he looked to escape with no more damage.
But a wild pitch with Brian McGuire at the dish brought a second run home before DiPietro induced a fly to center to end the threat.
Everything then went quiet for the next four innings, as both starters restored order with nothing but gooseeggs on the board. Diietro scattered four hits throughout that period, while Maloney worked three no-hit innings before yielding to Don Hinrichs, who tossed a shutout fifth.
But more loose play got the Blaze into more hot water in the top of the sixth.
Hinrichs got two quick outs, but Ley then singled and Alessandrini was hit by a pitch. Laudisio's RBI single made it 6-2, and Reader worked a walk to load the bases.
Colon then topped a ball to the mound, and Hinriches, his motion taking him to the plate, tried to get the out there. But his flip was wild, the ball going to the cage as both Alessandrini and Laudisio scampered home to give the Senators an 8-2 buffer.
Mastrangelo took the hill in the sixth, and the lefty worked two shutout frames in his first 45+ pitching action. But things looked a tad dicey when Carstarphen doubled to start the eighth, and Dan Jones singled, Carstarphen scoring on an errant throw to first. But the Senator lefty helped stop the bleeding, picking Jones off first with his best move there.
Rivera worked around two walks to toss a scoreless ninth and seal the win for the Senators.
No Senator hitter managed more than a lone safety, but five walks and some costly Blaze mistakes helped make that plenty. The Blaze got a 3-for-3 performance from Carstarphen to lead their offense.
DiPietro got his first win of 2013 with five innings of 7-hit ball, fanning two and walking none. Mastrangelo contributed three innings of 3-hit ball, fanning four and also walking none.
It was a solid, if unspectacular win for the Senators, and they'll take it. They look ahead to a home match next week against the Philadelphia Zombies.
Notes: Both Maloney and Hinrichs are solid on he hill for the Blaze, and they look like potential favorites to win the division if they can stop hurting themselves in the field...the Nats didn't exactly light-up the scoreboard with hits, but they were efficient, collecting their eight runs in just two innings. There were also some hard-hit balls that died in the cool morning breeze at Alcyon Park — it was NOT a day designed for hitting. In addition to Mastrangelo, Dave Parkin also made his 45+ Senator debut, walking in his first AB and adding a stolen base. Frank Izzi (torn bicep), Bruce Schumin (back surgery), and Joe Leo (knee) watched the action as walking wounded.