The Newark Bears picked up their very first win in the Can-Am League with an offense assault on the Rockland Boulders. Tim Raines Jr. led the charge with two home runs and 6 RBI. Todd Gossage also had a big day at the plate driving in three runs.
Ryan Lobban started the game for Newark and opposed Jonathan Velasquez. Lobban held his own by surrendering 3 runs through 5 innings pitched while striking out two.
It was the bottom half of the order who got Rockland on the scoreboard with runs driven in by Tommy Giles, Mark Hill and Eric Flynn. Former Newark catcher started his third straight game and went 3-for-4 to raise his season average to .385.
Relievers T.J. Hose and Andrew Pluta combined to pitch four innings of one run ball.
It was quite the game and the game drew a fairly impressive crowd considering a fair amount of people in North Jersey had already bolted for the Jersey Shore for the Memorial Day Weekend. The Bears finish out the homestand tomorrow afternoon at 1:05 p.m. when they officially launch their "friendly" rivalry against the New Jersey Jackals.
The crowds were sparse at Bears and Eagles Riverfront Stadium on Friday (announced attendance of 569), as the game got underway just shortly after 11 a.m. on a Friday work/school day. Nevertheless, the competitive atmosphere was there as the Bears fought right out of the gate for their first win since joining the Can-Am League. Both Jacob Wild (Newark) and Roger Lincoln (Rockland) put up matching zeros through the first two innings. In the third inning, Newark's Wild surrendered a towering three-run home run to Rockland lead-off hitter, Jermel Lomack.
In the sixth inning, Rockland catcher Todd Jennings plated another run on a double to make the score 4-0, but the Bears weren't out of it just yet. Newly acquired (or should I say reacquired) infielder Jeff Toth smacked a single that scored a pair of runs for Newark in the seventh. In his next at-bat in the ninth inning, Toth crushed a solo home run to bring the game within a run. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to get the Bears on top and the game ended after a Brandon Watson ground-out.
The Bears look to avoid the sweep and collect their first win of the season when they conclude the series against Rockland tomorrow night at 6:35 p.m. which also happens to be Fireworks Night at the ballpark.
It had been 8 months since that gloomy Sunday afternoon when the Bears played their final Atlantic League game at home against the Camden Riversharks. A lot has happened since then and the team has undergone quite a face lift in terms of their player roster. Riverfront Stadium was packed with students from all over the city to enjoy a day outdoors through the "Let's Move" campaign. Mayor Cory Booker along with Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo to help commemorate the Bears' entrance into the Can-Am League. Throughout the game, concession lines were long and wrapped around the length of the concourse. This was how baseball in the city was supposed to be when the team was introduced in the late 1990s.
Veteran pitcher Jesse Estrada started the game for the Bears and was able to keep Rockland off the board in the first inning. The Newark Bears offense led by jumped all over starter Bobby Blevins and put up three runs on three hits before the inning had ended. Newark remained on top until the fifth inning when Rockland scored 4 runs on 4 hits including a home run from Norm Hutchins to give the Boulders a 5-4 advantage. The Bears responded in the seventh inning when Tim Raines Jr. scored.
The score would remained tied until the tenth inning when the Boulders offense plated four runs off of reliever Anthony Pluta. The Bears were unable to rally in the bottom of the inning and ultimately fell by a score of 11-5. It was a disappointing start to the season no-doubt, but for the most part the Bears hung in there and kept the game within reach up until the very end.
Could the Bears rebound and get their first Can-Am League win in Game 2 of the series? Stay tuned...
More Newark Bears Coverage From Opening Day:
The Newark Bears opened up the 2011 Can-Am League regular season at home against Rockland Boulders on Thursday morning.
Bears and Eagles Riverfront Stadium was PACKED with students from nearby schools, who were given free tickets in honor of the "Lets Move!" event.
Like the Bears' season opener last year, the game was forced to go into extra innings -- only this time Newark wasn't able to come out on top. In the tenth inning, reliever Anthony Pluta, who started Sunday's exhibition game against Hank's Yanks, surrendered 6 runs to the Boulders.
Much more on the game later tonight.
The Newark Bears have finalized their pitching rotation through the 2011 Memorial Day weekend. Here is how the first week of the season shapes out for the Brick City ball club:
Thursday: Jesse Estrada, the senior member of Newark's pitching staff, takes the ball for the Bears on Opening Day tomorrow morning against the Rockland Boulders. Former Los Angeles Dodgers prospect Bobby Blevins will take the ball for Rockland.
Friday: Jacob Wild, who was a member of the Seattle Mariners organization for much of his career, will start for Newark on Friday's matinee game and will oppose Rockland Boulders starting pitcher Rodger Lincoln.
Saturday: Ryan Lobban, who the team just acquired earlier in the week from the New Jersey Jackals, will make his Bears debut against former Philadelphia Phillies farmhand, Jonathan Velasquez, who will start for the Boulders.
Sunday: Left-hander Eric Eden will wrap up the Memorial Day weekend by making an 11:00 a.m. start against the New Jersey Jackals in Game 1 of the Essex County Executive's Cup. So far the Jackals have yet to name a starter for that game.
Roster Cuts: The Bears have finalized their 2011 Opening Day roster by cutting catchers Matt Klimas and Patrick Reardon; as well as infielder and TCNJ alumni Jeff Toth. In addition, veteran infielder Ramon Nivar was placed on the inactive list.
The Newark Bears completed their first trade ever with their friendly local rivals, the New Jersey Jackals, earlier in the week when the Bears acquired starting pitcher Ryan Lobban in exchange for a player to be named later. Lobbon has shown potential to be an above-average pitcher in the Can-Am League.
In 2008 as a member of the Worcester Tornadoes, Lobban went 5-1 with a 3.11 ERA as a reliever. The following season in Worcester, Lobban converted to a starter and pitched quite well going 10-7 with a 3.56 ERA. He also struck out 74 batters in 121.1 innings pitched. Last season with the Jackals he regressed a bit and his ERA rose considerably to 5.56 in 18 starts.
You can never have enough pitching so if Lobbon can slot in as a middle of the rotation starter and put up numbers similar to like he did in 2008 and 2009, the Bears should be in pretty good shape in the starting pitcher category. Ryan Lobban is scheduled to make his season debut this Saturday in the series finale against the Rockland Boulders.
Little Known Fact: Ryan Lobban, a native of Saddle River, was recognized nationally in 2003 by Sports Illustrated as an up-and-coming sports star. Check it out here.
Gray skies loomed over the city of Newark all day long. The temperatures were rather chilly, yet there was still a baseball game to be played -- one that was for an especially good cause. Prior to the game, just about every Bears player on the roster (managers and coaching staff included) made themselves available for autographs around the stadium's main concourse.
Fans gathered on the infield to release over 450 balloons to commemorate the fight against Pancreatic cancer. On hand to participate was famed actor Danny Aiello and Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo.
Now on to the in-game action. Pitcher Anthony Puta took the mound for the Bears and pitched a scoreless first inning against the Hank's Yanks batters. Early on the young Yankees hopefuls looked over-matched at the plate, but it didn't stay that way for long (more on that later). Centerfielder Kyle LaMotta led off the game for the Bears with a double. Former big leaguers Tim Raines Jr. and Ramon Nivar walked soon after to make things interesting.
First baseman Brian Nichols came up to the plate next and subsequently popped out. Danny Santiesteban proceeded to ground-out, however a run crossed the plate to get the Bears on the board. Third baseman Todd Gossage, the youngest son of the legendary Goose Gossage, stepped up to the plate and promptly walked. Designated hitter and Newark local Burt Reynolds really got things going with a Hollywood style two-run double to fire up the crowd.
Catcher Eric McGee kept the rally going with an RBI double of his own. Hank's Yanks would ultimately battle back with some offense of their own and came within one run of tying things up. However, the Bears managed to stay on top throughout the latter innings of the game and pickup the exhibition win by a score of 9-to-7.
Overall, it was enjoyable game although the Bears did let the game get a little bit too close for comfort at the end. Although I wasn't really a huge fan of Newark's new jerseys at first, I have to admit they look pretty cool in person. I was told by a staffer that the new Newark Bears jerseys would eventually go on-sale at the team store, which opens this Thursday for Opening Day.
That's all for now -- stay tuned later this week as we count down the days until Opening Day at Riverfront Stadium this Thursday against the Rockland Boulders.