One of the Lexington Legends’ major promotions each season is its “mega-blast” fireworks shows. The Legends hitters got that party started early in the home opener Thursday night, belting 16 hits in a 14-5 win over the West Virginia Power at Whitaker Bank Ballpark.
Angelo Castellano, who hits ninth in the Legends batting order, made his case for moving up the ranks as his three-run homer in the bottom of the fourth broke the game open in front of an announced crowd of 6,942 and 124 dogs for the first of the Legends’ Bark in the Park nights.
“It was good start to our home opener, that’s for sure,” said Scott Thorman, in his first season with the Legends after running the Royals’ Burlington, N.C. affiliate the last two years. “Those guys came ready to play and the bats reflected that. We’ve been swinging well all year. It’s a core group of players who had some pretty good seasons last year, and we’re excited about what they can do this year.”
A six-run fourth inning for the Legends (3-5) got started against Power reliever Dylan Prohoroff, who inherited a 6-4 deficit. The right-hander promptly walked the bases loaded on 13 pitches. After a coaching visit to the mound, Lexington’s Chris DeVito singled to right, bringing home Clark Eagan and Gabriel Cancel. Emmanuel Rivera scored on a Nick Dini groundout that made it 9-4.
A sharp Marten Gasparini single to left ended Prohoroff’s night and left runners at first and third with one out. Left-hander Jordan Jess got Ricky Aracena to strike out, but a 1-0 pitch to Castellano reached the parking lot beyond the left-field fence and put Lexington up 12-4.
“I was ready for that pitch. His first pitch was a ball and I knew he was going to throw me a fastball,” said Castellano, who played four games for the Legends in 2015. “The fans are good — a lot of people today. We’re excited to play here in our place.”
Castellano went 2-for-4 with four RBI and three runs.
“That was a nice three-run homer out of the nine hole for us,” Thorman said. “Cassy’s been swinging the bat really well.”
Batting around: The only starting Legends player without a hit Thursday was the team’s batting leader, Emmanuel Rivera (.379). He drew a walk and scored a run.
Just outscore ’em: The Legends have had little trouble scoring this season with 52 runs in their first eight games. Pitching and defense have been more troublesome, however, as they have allowed 47 runs and committed 13 errors in that span.
“It’s A ball. On a given night, it’s A ball,” Thorman said. “Our players are human. It got away from us a little bit early (tonight) and we got it back together and finished strong, and I thought it was a good game.”
No love for glove: Legends starter Gerson Garabito drew the attention of home-plate umpire Emil Jimenez before the first pitch. Garabito’s bluish-gray glove was deemed a distraction and had to be swapped with a more traditional glove from the bullpen. Garabito (1-0) pitched five innings, giving up four runs on six hits with two walks and seven strikeouts for the win.
“I thought Garabiti threw the ball well. He settled down as the game went on,” Thorman said. “He gave himself a chance and gave our team a chance to get a win. That’s a quality start for him.”
How many outs? Twice, Legends base runners seemed to forget how many outs there were. Kort Peterson was doubled off second base on a fly ball to end the first. Chris DeVito was doubled off second base on a fly ball to end the eighth.
Net gain: For fans who like to sit close to the action, but were a little unnerved by the lack of protective fencing between the batters’ boxes and the dugout in the seats behind home plate, the Legends have extended the netting about 50 feet.
Hatfield-McCoy nights: The Legends and Power will don their primary uniforms for the first two games of the series, but will take on the famous Hatfield and McCoy personas on Saturday and Sunday. The Lexington McCoys and the West Virginia Hatfields harken to the legendary feud between rival clans along the Kentucky-West Virginia state line in the late 1800s.
“You know what? It’s minor league baseball. We’re always looking to have fun,” said Legends president Andy Shea, who wore shorts in defiance of the 38-degree night last year. “That’s one of the cool things: changing our names and (with this) it really makes sense. It’s more than just a made-up mascot name. That is an infamous story in history.”
West Virginia Power at Legends
When: 7:05 p.m. Friday, 6:35 p.m. Saturday, 2:05 p.m. Sunday
Radio: WLXG-AM 1300