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Attractions aplenty at AWL opener
Scorpions fall to Miners in first game of winter league
Bundled up in coats and blankets, Nearly 1,500 fans at Desert Sun Stadium were treated to nine innings of penguins and pom poms, Hondas and high school band music, five-foot tall hamburgers and free giveaways.
Not to mention a pretty good baseball game to top it all off.
The second season of the Arizona Winter League was off and running Friday night, but the Yuma Scorpions couldn't give the home team a season-opening victory in a 5-4 loss to the Canada Miners, who also had a fair share of maple leaf flag-touting supporters in the stands.
"Opening night is always cool," Canada manager Brooks Carey said. "We were pleasantly surprised that there were no errors. Both teams played a good defensive game, and I thought our pitching was awfully good the whole way though."
Of the Miners' three pitchers who took the mound, Jonathan Burke was the last to enter the game and the only one from either team to throw more than three innings. Burke held the Scorpions scoreless from the sixth inning on, allowing only one hit and striking out three for the win.
"He had been working out extensively before he got here, so he was a little more ready than the other guys," Carey said of Burke, a New York native who played for the Quebec Capitales last year.
The Miners took the lead in the top of the sixth inning when Darryl Brinkley sent a Ray Devaul offering over the leftfield wall for a solo home run and his only hit off the night. All eight of the other runs put on the scoreboard Friday night came in the fifth inning when both teams traded turns scoring four runs.
"We had the one rough inning, but other than that our pitching did a nice job," Yuma manager Mike Marshall said. "We had a nice rally to get back in the game and saw some great plays out there, so I enjoyed watching them play hard."
Trailing 4-0, Matt Britt, Mike Porchas and Mike Passarell each singled in the bottom of the fifth to load the bases before Matt Voorhies smacked a two-RBI double into the gap in right field. J.D. Poplin and LaBarian Willis, who entered the game earlier that inning, would bring the remaining runners home on a pair of sacrifice hits.
Only four players from both teams played the entire game, a statistic that will continue throughout the AWL to give each player as many opportunities as possible to show their stuff in front of as many scouts and coaches as possible.
"It looks like the way I'm going to do it is we'll kind of split the game to get everyone in, so your two at-bats can come pretty quick and you don't get a chance to get in a groove," Marshall said. "But some guys will play the whole game. It's a lot like spring training."
And spring training is exactly where the league's 150 players hope to be headed at the end of this month.