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Jackals blank Quebec 1-0 in home opener

There was plenty of buzz in the air on a warm Friday night at Yogi Berra Stadium. The unveiling of the first ever video scoreboard, a 42’ LED manufactured by Daktronics, coupled with the New Jersey Jackals 2018 regular season home opener against the defending 2017 Can-Am League champs in the Quebec Capitales. New Jersey got off to a rough start, going 2-5 on a road trip in Canada.

However, Jackals manager Brooks Carey said the record was not indicative of how the team played. “We got a couple of bad breaks on the road and could have a lot better record than we have,” said Brooks. “I really like the makeup of this team so far, most guys are as good as I thought they would be and other guys are better than I thought they would be which is really odd. We still have three or four guys, and they are not going to get worse and get better as the year goes on and straighten things out.”

Carey called upon Lendy Castillo to start the home opener, in his first start of the season against the Capitales on May 9th. Castillo tossed six innings allowing two runs, one of them earned, on four hits and struck out eight. Castillo turned in another dominating performance, whiffing seven hitters through four innings on the mound. He eventually departed the contest after five innings, yielding just three hits and striking out nine strikeouts as he lowered his ERA to 0.82.

Castillo and Quebec starter Ryan Searle engaged in a pitcher’s duel the first six innings. Proving to be just as masterful with his command, Searle did not permit a hit until the fourth inning. New Jersey had a golden opportunity to score the first run of the game in the fifth with runners on second and third with two outs, but Searle escaped the jam retiring the last two hitters.

In the sixth inning, Seth Spivery managed to break the stalemate delivering a sac fly to center field. Handing the ball off to the bullpen, Chad Gendron went two innings, including wiggling out a tight situation with two men on base in the seventh. Nate Gercken’s number was called next, and he did not disappoint throwing a spotless eighth.

Looking to close it out in the ninth, Vin Mazzaro came in and right off the bat Quebec third baseman Brad Antchak reached on an error. Antchak proceeded to move on to second on a sac bunt and eventually third base on a throwing error. Mazzaro was unfazed as he struck out the last two batters to earn his first save of the season while Gendron picked up the win in relief.

“Everything worked out as planned tonight because pitchers got hitters out when we needed to get them out,” said Carey. “You have to get guys out in scoring position, and we did it one more time than they did it. Lendy (Castillo) has the stuff where he can pitch in much higher leagues, and we’ll see out it works out for him.”

“The key to the whole game was Gendron’s two innings and when he got the outs when he needed it. He had to face some tough hitters and ended up getting out of there. Gercken with the stuff I have seen is good enough to shut down an inning, and Mazzaro still has that big league stuff that is tough to hit and more smart not giving into a hitter in certain situations.”

“That was fun and exciting to get that first one in front of these fans I don’t know and to do it against Quebec in a tight 1-0 game that could go wrong on either side, and that was huge, and we needed it.”

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Sunil Sunder Raj

Since July of 2014 Sunil Sunder Raj has been with In The Zone. Sunil has experience covering minor league baseball, high school and college sports. A beat writer for the Rockland Boulders for six years, Ramapo College men’s basketball for four years, NJIT men’s basketball and Seton Hall women’s basketball. Now focusing on feature articles about athletes, coaches and sports media professionals. A graduate of Ramapo College of New Jersey with a bachelor of arts degree in journalism.
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