By Cory D Smith, Of Lehigh Valley Live
Outfielder Bo Ausmus could not be kept off the bases in the Lehigh Valley Catz's 2014 home opener.
The left fielder from Carson Newman College went 3-for-3 with an RBI and was hit by a pitch as the Catz beat the Quakertown Blazers 11-3 tonight in an Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League game.
"It's always good early in the season to go 3-for-3," Ausmus said. "It was just an adjustment seeing live pitching for everybody I think and we just kind of got in a groove today."
A pitchers' duel seemed to be brewing after both teams were held scoreless through the first three innings. However, the Catz tallied six runs in the fourth inning and five more runs in the fifth to put the game out of reach.
"We've all been working hard to try to get back our swings because we've had a lot of time off from our college seasons," said outfielder Nick Beinlich, an Easton Area High School graduate who just completed his freshman season playing for Belmont Abbey. Beinlich was 1-for-4 with two RBIs. "It's good to hit the ball around, run the bases and put up a lot of runs for our pitchers."
The Catz were able to make adjustments after Blazers starting pitcher Kevin Long of Lehigh got six of his first nine out by strikeout.
Long hit Catz first baseman Brody Clifford with a pitch to start the fourth inning. He then gave up five consecutive hits, the last being a two-run single to outfielder Brian Uliana, who was just cleared to play last week after recovering from Tommy John surgery over a year ago.
"I'm more than excited to be back and playing, throwing, and being able to swing," said Uliana, a Freedom graduate who missed his freshman season at Rider University because of the surgery. "After sitting a year out, it took its toll on me. But I'm excited to be back."
The Catz used six different pitchers to secure the win with Nick Macaione gaining the victory. The Lehigh pitcher from North Warren pitched three innings in relief while giving up three hits and one run with two strikeouts. Macaione relieved starter David Moyer, who pitched three scoreless innings to go with two strikeouts.
Catz relievers after Macaione allowed seven walks over the last three innings, but manager Dennis Morgan said he attributed those to first-game gitters.
"Some people don't have as much experience as others (and) are a bit nervous these first times they get to the mound," he said. "But you can't quit on them. We'll be patient with them."
The Catz struck out eight times. Limiting the number of punchouts will be a big key to success, said Morgan.
"I think we'll have baserunners and if we don't strike out, we'll have people in scoring position so that much of the time if we can just get the base hit, we'll punch a run home," Morgan said.
The Catz travel to Allentown on Friday to play the Railers at ECTB Stadium. The game starts at 7 p.m.
Copyright © 2014, Lehigh Valley Live
Bo Ausmus, Photo courtesy of Carson Newman College Athletics