O’Fallon, Mo. – After a full offseason of signings, workouts, practices, tryouts, and exhibition games, the River City Rascals are finally ready to begin defense of their 2010 Frontier League Championship.
The 2011 season begins for the defending champs tonight, here at T.R. Hughes Ballpark, when the Rascals will host their Opening Night festivities, and the first ballgame of the season against the Normal CornBelters, at 7:05 p.m.
The Rascals made their final cuts on Wednesday, when they released OF-IF Aric Weinberg and 2010 NCAA Division II Player of the Year OF Bryan Fogle, and now have their roster down to the Opening Day maximum of 24 players.
River City will carry 13 pitchers and 11 position players to start the season, with P Ryne Miller on the disabled list and 2B Doug Sanders on the suspended-in-action list. Both are expected back healthy and ready to join the team by the beginning of June.
Tonight’s season opener at T.R. Hughes is expected to be one of the top fan-friendly sporting events in the St. Louis area this year.
As fans come to the park this evening, they will see clowns, jugglers on unicycles, face-painters, and the world-famous Budweiser Clydesdales.
Other Opening Night festivities include the official raising of the 2010 Frontier League Championship banner during pre-game ceremonies, and post-game fireworks presented by Budweiser.
After the fireworks, everyone is invited onto the playing field to meet and mingle with the players and coaches, get autographs, and run the bases.
In fact, Rascals general manager Chris Franklin said that fans will have access to the field following every River City home game this season.
“We take great pride in providing a full night of entertainment,” Franklin said in a statement released by the team. “Kids are always asking to go on the field so we figured why not make it happen every night.”
Also new to the Rascals this year are fireworks after every Friday home game and the Dog Pound Patio, which is an exclusive ticketed area that features an all-inclusive buffet with beverages for just $25.00.
“We feel it is the best entertainment value in the area,” Franklin said.
First pitch this evening at T.R. Hughes is 7:05 p.m.
Friday, May 20 – 7:05 pm
Normal – Ryan Sheldon — 9-5, 2.21 ERA, 126.1 IP, 121 Ks, 26 BB.
River City – Gary Moran – 10-4, 2.68 ERA, 111.0 IP, 98 Ks, 22 BB.
Saturday, May 21 – 7:05 pm
Normal – Tyler Lavigne – 7-2, 1.38 ERA, 71.2 IP, 55 Ks, 29 BB.
River City – Ryan Zink – 6-5, 3.62 ERA, 74.2 IP, 54 Ks, 17 BB.
Sunday, May 22 – 5:05 pm
Normal – Brett Lester, 7-7, 4.42 ERA, 89.2 IP, 76 Ks, 44 BB.
River City – Zack Sterner, 5-1, 3.61 ERA, 57.1 IP, 38 Ks, 29 BB.
Normal CornBelters River City Rascals
1-SS Tyler Keeble 1-CF Eric Williams
2-2B Frank Martinez 2-3B Bobby Burk
3-3B Daniel Cox 3-RF Stephen Holdren
4- DH Jeff Dunbar 4-1B Joash Brodin
5-1B Steve Alexander 5- C Danny Sawyer
6-CF Colin Moro 6- LF Chad Maddox
7-RF Asif Shah 7-DH Jason Carr
8-LF Chris Brown 8-2B Brandon Johnson
9- C Gabe DeMarco 9-SS Brian Harris