Charlottesville Tom Sox fall on opening day

Eric Grabowski readies for the pitch at the plate for the Tom Sox. Eric Grabowski readies for the pitch at the plate for the Tom Sox.

The purring of food truck generators and the buzz of field lights Wednesday night meant baseball was back at C-VILLE Weekly ballpark, home of the Charlottesville Tom Sox.

Cold bats and a quality Rebel bullpen caused the Tom Sox to fall to the New Market Rebels on opening day, 8-2.

Before the game, the Tom Sox took the field along with their new prairie dog mascot, Prairieweather Lewis. In the offseason, Tom Sox fans voted on the mascot animal and the mascot’s name.

Prairieweather Lewis greets a young Tom Sox fan.
Prairieweather Lewis greets a young Tom Sox fan.

Along with the new mascot, the Tom Sox are changing the way they recruit players.

“We have done a little more due diligence in taking time in recruiting the right athletes to come here,” general manager Mike Paduano said. “We were cognizant of what type of kid we would like to see here: blue collar kid that works hard, very athletic, high intensity, a lot of energy.”

The 7pm opening pitch struck New Market’s Bowen McGuffin, sending him to first base. McGuffin would eventually score after a single and a sacrifice fly, putting the Rebels up 1-0 after the first inning.

The Rebels did not look back as they led throughout the rest of the game.

Joey Johnson started at pitcher for the Rebels, earning five strikeouts in six innings of play. Johnson shut down the Tom Sox offense allowing only one run off three hits.

In the third inning, McGuffin crossed home for the second time of the night off of a wild pitch, making it 2-0 to New Market.

In the bottom of the third the Tom Sox gained some footing offensively behind the bat of Dan Wondrack, a rising sophomore at the College of Charleston. His double in the third inning brought home D.J. Lee, making it 3-1 after three innings.

“[We have] a completely different team. We have a very athletic team this year, guys that play multiple positions,” Paduano said. “The versatility is something that is important because we can move these kids around to different positions.”

Despite the athleticism of the Tom Sox, they gave up runs in six of nine innings and committed two errors.

A.J. Franklin winds up on the mound.
A.J. Franklin winds up on the mound.

“It was good to see all the guys get out there and swing the bat tonight,” head coach Travis Thomas said.  “It’s only game one. Our job is to go forward and approach tomorrow with everything we got.”

Tonight’s game against the Harrisonburg Turks has been postponed. The Tom Sox will be on the road Saturday night for a  matchup with the Covington Lumberjacks.

 

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Read more about the team’s lineup this year as well as utility infielder Justin Novak, part of the 2015 College World Series-winning UVA baseball team.

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