It may have been opening day at the Ballpark at Jackson, but it was singles night for the Jackson Generals.
The Generals put together 15 hits – 12 singles – and five shutout innings from starting pitcher Taylor Clarke – to open defense of its 2016 Southern League title with an 8-0 win over the Birmingham Barons, Thursday.
Clarke allowed two hits, struck out seven and didn’t allow a runner past second in five complete innings.
“It’s always to pitch with a lead,” Clarke said. “I would have liked to have pitched more, but I was able to ease back into (season).”
Offensively, the Generals didn’t waste any time when the Double A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks scored four runs in their first four innings.
Leading 2-0 after three innings, Jackson loaded the bases when Birmingham starter Jordan Guerrero walked three of the first four hitters he faced in the fourth inning.
Evan Marzilli, Kevin Medrano and Colin Walsh walked and Marzilli scored on a Guerrero wild pitch.
“I think our hitting coach (Jason) Camilli and pitching coach (Doug) Drabek deserve a raise,” Jackson manager J.R. House said, laughing. “It’s a great start to the season … 15 hits, eight runs … (catcher Oscar) Hernandez throws a guy out stealing. You could not ask for a better way to start the season.”
The Barons – the Double A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox – brought in Brandon Brennan to relieve Guerrero.
Brennan was greeted by Dawel Lugo (3-for-4, RBI), who singled to score Marzilli and Medrano scored on a wild pitch giving the Generals a 4-0 lead.
NOTE: Jackson and Birmingham resume their five-game series at 6:05 p.m., today at the Ballpark at Jackson.
(PHOTO: Taylor Clarke, Jackson Generals was credited with Thursday’s win over the Birmingham Barons)
David Thomas, Twitter – @DavidThomas@WNWS