Shorebirds enjoy 20th season Opening Week

Shorebirds Cover

The Delmarva Shorebirds rallied to clinch their first series victory of the 2015 season, defeating the Greensboro Grasshoppers 5-3 at Arthur W. Perdue Stadium on Sunday afternoon in front of 5,093 fans.

The Shorebirds trailed entering the bottom of the fifth, but got back into the game thanks to a three-run double from Alex Murphy. Delmarva then tied the game when Conor Bierfeldt came through with a run scoring double of his own.

In the sixth, the Shorebirds took the lead for good on a Steve Wilkerson RBI single. A Murphy single and Bierfeldt’s second double of the afternoon provided two insurance runs.

It wasn’t just the middle of the Shorebirds order providing offense, as shortstop Jared Breen kicked off a three-hit day with an RBI single in the bottom of the second that erased an early 1-0 deficit.

The afternoon capped an impressive opening series for the Shorebirds offense, as the team hit .304, scored 23 runs and clubbed 14 extra base hits.

Pitcher Matthew Grimes made his Shorebirds debut, striking out seven batters in 4.1 innings. After Grimes hit a snag in the fifth inning, Dariel Delgado and Zeke McGranahan combined to retire 12 of the last 14 Grasshoppers batters to pick up the victory. McGranahan also struck out four over the game’s final two frames to pick up his first save of the season.

On Monday, the Shorebirds needed a comeback for the second straight day, defeating the Kannapolis Intimidators by a final score of 5-3 on Monday night. Delmarva (4-1) scored four runs in the sixth inning to steal the series opener from the visitors.

Both starters eased their way through the opening frames before Delmarva finally broke the ice in the fourth inning. Elier Leyva reached on a walk from Luis Martinez, swiping second base with his first steal of the year. Jomar Reyes sailed a flyball over Michael Suiter in centerfield for an RBI double.

Bennett Parry cruised along until the sixth inning. The Shorebirds’ left-hander retired 11 batters in a row before a leadoff double in the sixth by Ethan Gross. Kannapolis tied the game on groundball misplayed at first base for an error. The Intimidators kept the pressure on with an RBI double to deep center by Chris Curley, ending the night for Parry. Nick Cunningham surrendered an RBI single to Zach Fish to extend the Kannapolis lead to 3-1.

The Shorebirds immediately responded with a big inning, sparked by a few miscues from Kannapolis. Leyva jump-started the rally by reaching on a fielding error from Toby Thomas at third base. After an long battle with reliever Jacob Morris, Riley Palmer was plunked with a pitch. Jomar Reyes followed with an infield single to load the bases.

With the bags juiced, Kannapolis went to the bullpen, bringing on righty David Trexler. The Intimidators’ reliever lost command of his fastball, walking Breen to force in a run. Riley Palmer raced home on a wild pitch from Trexler, tying the game at 3-3. With two outs, Alex Murphy put Delmarva on top with a line drive to center, scoring two more runs. Murphy collected his eighth and ninth RBIs of the season, tops in the South Atlantic League.

The Shorebirds’ bullpen of Cunningham and Hart protected the 5-3 lead, retiring the final eight batters of the game. Cunningham (1-1) received the win, while Hart picked up his first save of the year with two strikeouts in a perfect ninth. Jacob Morris (0-1) picks up the loss for Kannapolis, which falls to 2-3 on the season.

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