Updated: Thursday, 09 Apr 2009, 8:54 PM EDT
Published : Thursday, 09 Apr 2009, 8:54 PM EDT
Buffalo, NY (bisons.com) - There was plenty of excitement at the newly-christened Coca-Cola Field as the Bisons opened their 124th season of professional baseball in Buffalo. The anticipation of a new era in team history brought a crowd of 13,178 on a sunny, albeit brisk afternoon downtown. Mr. Met shook hands with Buster and the new-look Bisons team took the field for the first time as Triple-A affiliate of the New York Mets.
The final score read 6-4 Pawtucket, thanks to an early lead that was too much for Herd batters to rebound from. But a crowd that was a virtual sea of Mets and Bisons hats and jackets celebrated the promise of a new era in team history.
The first pitches where plenty, as Coca-Cola GM Pete Benzino tossed a strike to commemorate the new name to the team's new home. Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and Erie County Executive Chris Collins gave Mets owner Jeff Wilpon the Key to the City and proclaimed it Mets Day in Western New York. State senator Charles Schumer and Governor David Patterson joined in with first pitches as well.
The game wasn't without great moments on the field, either. Fernando Martinez, the youngest Bisons player in more than 15 years, doubled and tripled in much awaited debut. Former World Series hero Bobby Kielty had a pair of hits and stole a base. His then-Boston teammate Kyle Snyder pitched three scoreless innings for the Herd.
But a 5-0 deficit was too large for the Bisons to climb out of. Back-to-back RBI-hits from Jonathan Malo and Jose Coronado in the fifth pulled the Herd to within 5-2. Cory Sullivan and Rob Mackowiak knocked in runs to bring the deficit to one an inning later. That was as close as the Herd would get.
Jonathon Niese took the loss in his Herd debut. The southpaw lasted just two innings, giving up a run in the first inning and four more in the second. Three consecutive two-out doubles by Chip Ambres, Paul McAnulty and Dusty Brown helped the PawSox build the insurmountable lead.
Game two of the series is tomorrow; a fridaynightbash! at 6:05 p.m. with RHP Dillon Gee getting the ball for Buffalo.