|By Jake Adams, The Sentinel, Carlisle, Pa.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
On the 15th pitch of the season, and the first one
"I was just looking for a pitch to drive," Wickenheiser said. "Got a first pitch, obviously, put it over."
A waist-high heater by
"A lot," Wickenheiser said of his three-run bomb relaxing the team. "You're kind of tense a little bit 'til you get the first hit and then first runs, too."
With the nerves settled in the Colts' dugout, and squarely on the side of the Panthers (0-1), the pitching staff got down to business. The offense spotted
The duo combined to allow just six hits and four earned over the seven innings. Malone struck out four in four innings of work while Smith fanned two. But Smith struggled with command late and surrendered four walks as well, three of which contributed to runs in the third and fourth inning.
"As soon as we get out of that rhythm of throwing strikes then they put runs on the board," Phillips said. "So as long as we throw strikes I like our pitching."
Offensively, the Colts got a near flawless performance from the top of their lineup. Wickenheiser was the only one to go yard, but the top four in the lineup --
"If we do that every game, hey, we're going to win a lot of games," Phillips said of the unexpected power surge. "We should have the pitching, we should have the defense, that we don't need to score 14 runs."
The Panthers regrouped a bit in the middle innings, threatening the Colts with a four-run fourth inning and two in the third, but it wasn't meant to be.
"I think there was a little jitters in the first inning," Panthers coach
But it wasn't enough. With an 11-6 lead, Malone settled in for the Colts. The middle of the lineup gave him some added insurance in the final frame, as two doubles by the bottom of the lineup knocked in the final two runs.
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