RICHMOND, Va., April 7—They were a long way from home but the Hartford Yard Goats are on the field. The Yard Goats won their first-ever game today and defeated the Richmond Flying Squirrels, 5-4, at The Diamond in Virginia in Eastern League play on the opening day for minor league teams around the nation.
Rockies outfield prospect Rosell Herrera had four hits and drove in three runs and first round selection Kyle Freeland surrendered just one run in five innings to earn the win for Hartford.
The Yard Goats are playing the first eight weeks of the Eastern League season on the road as the city of Hartford completes their new, baseball stadium. The first home game at the new Dunkin Donuts Park won’t be until May 31.
Until then, the Rockies’ Class AA affiliate, once known as the New Britain Rock Cats, will be playing on the road. It was the first game for a professional Hartford-based baseball team since 1952 when the Hartford Chiefs played their final game at Bulkeley Stadium.
Trailing 1-0 after four innings, the Yard Goats scored twice in the fifth inning to take the lead for good off Richmond starter Tyler Beede. Herrera’s RBI single tied the game, scoring Dillon Thomas and SS Pat Valaika’s RBI single brought home Herrera and gave the Yard Goats a 2-1 lead.
Hartford (1-0) added three more runs in the sixth inning off Richmond reliever Pedro Casilla. A leadoff walk to Ryan McMahon proved to be costly for the Flying Squirrels. Konner Wade’s safely squeeze bunt scored McMahon and Herrera followed with a 2-run double to right center.
The Squirrels made things closer in the late innings. Richmond’s Ricky Oropesa ripped a two-run homer to make it 5-3 in the eighth inning.
Berlin native Matt Carasiti, the closer for the Yard Dogs, gave up a solo home run in the ninth inning and a two-out single but he survived to get the save. Carasiti got Richmond’s Myles Schroder to ground sharply to first base on a nice play by Correll Prime to end the game.
The Yard Goats and Flying Squirrels play again tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m., with Hartford RHP Zach Jemiola set to face Richmond’s LHP Adalberto Mejia. The game will be broadcast on WPOP-AM (1410).
Bees sign four pitchers who have played in major leagues
NEW BRITAIN, April 7 — The New Britain Bees continue to piece together their inaugural 2016 roster, signing four pitchers with major league experience — Josh Outman, Eric Fornataro, Josh Zeid, and Farmington native Nick Greenwood. The Atlantic League club has also signed Newington native and former New Britain Rock pitcher Cat Cole Johnson.
The Bees open their first season in New Britain on Thursday, April 21, when they host the York (Pa.) Revolution at New Britain Stadium.
Outman, 31, threw 274.1 innings over six years with the A’s, Rockies, Indians and Yankees. Fornataro spent eight years in the minors and appeared in eight games in 2014 with the Cardinals, all out of the bullpen. Zeid played in 48 games with the Astros from 2013-14, all in relief. He grew up in New Haven and played at Hamden Hall Country Day School.
Greenwood grew up in Farmington and played in 20 games with the Cardinals in the 2014 and 2015 seasons. The 6-foot-1 hurler has made 72 starts in 277 professional games and has 400 strikeouts.
Johnson spent parts of the 2013 and 2014 seasons in New Britain as part of the Minnesota Twins organization, registering 12 saves and striking out130 batters. He has 280 strikeouts in 262.2 innings of work in the minor leagues.
“Outman, Fornataro, Zeid and Greenwood bring great MLB experience to our roster, while Johnson’s experience in New Britain is a fantastic asset,” Bees skipper Stan Cliburn said. “These additions give us great talent on our pitching staff, and we’re very excited to have them for our inaugural season.”