EL PASO, TX- Despite solid pitching from starter Erik Blackwell and three right-handers out of the bullpen, the Diablos fell to the Fargo Moorhead Red Hawks on Opening Day at Cohen Stadium by a final score of 3-1.
The Diablos scratched across the first run of the season to take a 1-0 lead when center fielder Kory Drew led off the third inning with a single. Drew advanced to third on a throwing error by Red Hawks starter Kenn Kasparek and scored on second baseman Maikol Gonzalez’s RBI groundout.
That would be the last run of the day for El Paso, however, as Kasparek did not allow another Diablo to reach scoring position. The 6’10, 245 lb. right-hander allowed just four hits over his six and a third innings of work, striking out four and throwing only 87 pitches.
Meanwhile, Fargo Moorhead answered the Diablos’ run in the third with three of their own in the top of the fourth. Third baseman Enrique Cruz and right fielder Jon Gaston led off the inning with back-to-back singles, and the Red Hawks tied the game when second baseman Carlo Cota hit an RBI double to score Cruz. Designated hitter Marcos Rodriguez’s run-scoring groundout and catcher Todd Jennings’ sacrifice fly gave the Red Hawks the lead for good, handing Blackwell (0-1) the tough luck loss. Blackwell pitched five innings, giving up seven hits and striking out one.
The Diablos couldn’t muster enough offense with the few chances they had in the late innings. First baseman Javier Brito grounded into an inning ending double play in the sixth, and designated hitter Palmer Karr Jr. struck out swinging with two men on and two out in the eighth.
Kevin Fuqua pitched an inning and two thirds of scoreless relief, and closer Tom Boleska struck out the side for the first save of the season for the Red Hawks.
The Diablos resume play tomorrow in game two of the series with Fargo. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.