Lexington Legends

Rain doesn't tarnish Legends opener

As usual, opening night at Applebee's Park had plenty of entertainment and a festive atmosphere.

A poster giveaway, "Dollar Day" refreshments, "tuxedo" jerseys and more.

The Lexington Legends had an unplanned addition Friday — Wet T-shirt Night.

Rain began chasing fans from open-area seating in the top of the third inning.

Play continued until the middle of the seventh, when the game was called after a 36-minute delay with the Legends claiming a 12-8 victory over the Greenville Drive in front of 6,589 fans, many who left during the deluge.

As is his custom, team president and CEO Alan Stein had some guarantees for the opener. The first — 60 degrees or warmer, or everyone in attendance would get a free ticket to a future game — came through at 70 degrees.

The second — a Legends victory or Stein would shave his moustache for the first time in 40 years — also came through, just a bit soggy.

"I told (Stein) today, right before the game, 'Don't worry about it — I've got your moustache," Rodney Linares said after his first home win as manager of the Legends.

Stein also has Kody Hinze to thank for saving his face.

Hinze went 3-for-4, drove in six runs and scored twice. Hinze smacked a first-inning grand slam over the wall in right-center, his first homer of the season, and sent a two-run shot to left-center in his second at-bat.

"I just got lucky, got a pitch up," Hinze said of his slam, which came on a 3-2 pitch. "Just tried to drive it somewhere to score one run at least, and I just happened to get four."

Seven of Lexington's nine batters had hits — 13 in all — and the other two players combined for three walks. Eight Legends scored. Jiovanni Mier, Jake Goebbert, Jonathan Meyer and Grant Hogue had two hits each.

The Legends (5-4) bounced back after back-to-back losses at Kannapolis.

"We looked flat those two losses," Linares said. "The guys came out swinging, gave (Jose) Cisnero a big lead. The weather kind of affected him a little bit. But Nate Pettus came up from extended (spring training) and he did a heck of a job for us, keeping us in the game."

Pettus, added to the roster earlier Friday, picked up the win with three innings of five-strikeout, no-hit relief. The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder took the place of outfielder Brian Kemp, who is on the disabled list due to a left ankle injury.

Greenville starter Roman Mendez entered with a 21.60 ERA and left with a 24.55.

However, the loss went to Pedro Perez (0-1), who gave up Lexington's final six runs.

Two walks and an infield single loaded the bases for Hinze in the first.

Cisnero, who retired the Drive 1-2-3 in the first, yielded five runs in the second. Greenville packaged four hits, a walk and a hit batsman.

Two unearned runs in the third made it 7-4 for the Drive, but Lexington sent 10 batters to the plate for a five-run third inning.

Hinze's two-run homer opened the scoring.

"Same thing (as the slam), just trying to hit the ball hard in the gap," Hinze said. "Try to score a run, and just happened to get it out."

Miguel Arrendell singled in a run and later scored on a delayed double steal. Mier doubled in the other run.

Goebbert added a two-out, two-run double in the fifth. Rene Garcia had a solo homer in the sixth.

Before the rain, pre-game ceremonial pitchers included Legends Hall of Famers J.J. Cannon and Charley Taylor, plus the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year, Kentucky's DeMarcus Cousins. Cannon managed the team for its first two years, winning the league title in 2001. Taylor served as pitching coach for eight seasons, until cancer kept him out last season.