In the Charles Town Cannons' opener against the Strasburg, Va., Express, former Jefferson Cougar pitcher Chris Payne felt right at home being on the mound at Sager Field.
Payne pitched seven innings, allowing one run on four hits, and striking out seven batters as the Cannons opened fire offensively in the fourth and fifth innings to take a 7-1 victory and start the season strong.
"It felt great to be home," Payne said. "I felt fresh, had a great defense behind me, threw a bullpen to develop a changeup.
Chris Payne took the mound for the Charles Town Cannons at their season opener. Payne was a member of Jefferson High's 2011 state championship team and no stranger to Sager Field.
"This team is amazing, and it just felt great to be out there."
"We didn't know what to expect in Charles Town, but we knew it was a baseball county with Jefferson coach John Lowery, and we drew a good crowd," Charles Town manager Bobby Rauh said. "It was great to have Chris on the bump with guys on our pitching staff still playing in regionals in the College World Series and having players come back from the Junior College World Series.
"Chris throwing seven innings and giving our bullpen rest, while also throwing the first pitch for the Cannons in his hometown, had us feel good for him."
Strasburg scored the opening run in the top of the first with Jordan Tasovich getting hit by a pitch and Tre Porter taking a walk before Tyler McDonald and Kyle Bynum bringing the runners around on groundouts with the hit-and-run to make the score 1-0.
Following three scoreless innings by the Cannons, the offense began to settle in as Charles Town took the lead.
"In the first couple of innings, we were getting a little antsy," Rauh said. "We were able to get guys on base, execute to get runners in scoring position and bring in runs as we look for the middle of our lineup."
Luke Stewart singled to left to start the bottom of the fourth. On a hit and run, resulting in Stewart going to third, Hayden Cronenbold reached safely on an infield single. A groundout by Waldyvan Estrada brought Stewart to the plate for the equalizing run. Michelotti reached on a dropped ball by Strasburg on the play at first to bring Conenbold home, giving the Cannons their first lead of the night.
Matt Durst hit a grounder on a hit and run to move Michelotti to third before an errant pickoff throw on a pickoff play brought the final run of the fourth for Charles Town home, making the score 3-1 after four complete.
The Cannons were not finished, scoring three more runs in the fifth.
Emmanuel Marrero reached on a passed ball on a dropped third strike to start the fifth. Following a walk by Tyler Hibbert to put two runners aboard, Estrada brought Marrero and Hibbert to the plate on a two-run single. Michelotti hit a triple off the right-field wall to bring Estrada to the plate and give the Cannons a 6-1 lead.
The Cannons added one more run in the eighth inning with an RBI single by Marrero that brought home Matt Durst, who reached on a single to start the inning for Charles Town, to add more insurance to an already comfortable lead.
Following the opening-day victory, the Cannons will continue to make the most of what they have as they play the Aldie Senators today at Sager Field with first pitch set for 7 p.m.
"We are going to do great, and we have only half of our roster right now," Payne said. "With members of this team coming back from regionals, that will be more players coming back for us.
"For now, we have a great start with the players we have."