HOLLY SPRINGS, N.C. – The crack of the bat resonated throughout Holly Springs Park at the North Main Athletic Complex as Coastal Plain League (CPL) play returned to town on Wednesday.
Unfortunately, the Holly Springs Salamanders’ 2016 home opener against the league’s newest team, the Savannah Bananas, didn’t end on a positive note – the Salamanders lost 8-6 in front of 1,235 in attendance.
Following a first year of play that concluded in a Petit Cup East Division semifinal run with an overall 28-28 record, Holly Springs returning coach Andrew Ciencin, an N.C. State alum, fielded a new squad that had some familiar faces, but many new ones.
It was the Salamanders’ (0-2) second loss in as many days after opening the season on the road Tuesday, falling 4-3 in 10 innings to the Asheboro Copperheads.
Brandon Riley, a freshman utility fielder at North Carolina, was the first to get on base, and following a steal to second and a double from Dillon Stewart, scored the first run of the game.
Starting pitcher Andrew Papp, a Raleigh native who finished his freshman season for Clemson, set the tone early and racked up a strikeout as the Salamanders led 1-0 through the first two innings.
Savannah (1-1) put together a four-run rally in the top of the fourth and took its first lead of the game – one it never relinquished.
Angel Camacho (2-4) and Drew Moody (2-5) led the Bananas with two RBI apiece while starter Greg Hollman led on the mound with a six-inning outing, striking out four while giving up two earned runs on seven hits.
Adam Goodman (2 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 4 SO) and Ryan Flores (1 IP, 1 SO) came in after Hollman and contained the Salamanders bats for the remainder of the night
Papp eventually completed four innings, but not before giving up four earned runs on six hits.
Holly Springs went through three other hurlers on the night as Kyle Staats (2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 SO), Alex Pantuso (2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 3 SO), and Tyler Scearce (1 IP, 1 SO) saw time on the mound.
The Bananas added single runs in each of the fifth through eighth innings and led 8-4 heading into the ninth.
Stewart (3-5) connected on a two-run shot over the fence to record the first Salamanders long ball at home.
However, Stewart’s four RBI night along with matching 2-for-4 outings from Riley and Devin Ruiz (1 RBI), and an RBI from Jon Rosoff (1-2) wasn’t enough as the Salamanders’ ninth-inning rally ended short of the mark.
Holly Springs will look to post its first win of the season when it hosts the Morehead City Marlins on Thursday.