By Matt Parrino
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — On a cool day at Coca-Cola Field Thursday afternoon, the Bisons summoned the sunshine with their scorching hots bats, erupting for 17 hits en route to a 12-7 win over Rochester on Opening Day.
Marty Brown, managing his first game as Bisons skipper since he left in 2005, was pleased with the way his team waited for good pitches to hit.
"That's one of the things we stressed in spring training — trying to get good pitches and not selling yourself out," he said. "It was a real good offensive day. They have worked real hard this spring and they faced (Rochester starting pitcher P.J.) Walters in spring training, so they had a good idea what kind of stuff he had going into the game."
Walters only lasted 4 innings, surrendering nine hits and five earned runs.
Six Bisons hitters recorded at least two hits and Buffalo's own Jim Negrych finished with three hits batting in the lead off spot, turning in a spectacular debut as a member of the hometown team.
Brown said that while Negrych isn't necessarily the most talented player on the diamond, he comes to the ballpark every day to compete and always gives opposing pitchers fits because of his tenacious approach at the plate.
"He puts a lot of pressure on the opposing pitching staff every time he goes up there. You feel good when he goes up there," Brown said. "He's not the most talented guy on the field, (doesn't) have the greatest range or arm, but he just has the heart and a chip on his shoulder that makes him competitive beyond belief. It's nice to have Jim on this team and he's a guy that can hit anywhere in the order."
Buffalo center fielder Anthony Gose, one of Toronto's top prospects, shined as well, going 3 for 5 with a double, a run scored and one RBI. Gose's double was the first hit of the game for the Bisons and should have been a single, but the speedster rounded first base hard and tested the left fielder, whose throw was low, allowing Gose to make it in safely at second.
"Gose is all in," Brown said. "I hate to go back to 2004, but he is an all in type of guy. He's here, he's realizes he's here and he's going to take care of being here until he goes up to Toronto. I'm very proud of the way he's pushed himself and matured."
After one inning the score was tied at one run apiece. The Bisons scored three in the bottom of the second on a pair of singles by Gose and shortstop Ryan Goins, whose double down the first base line plated Eugenio Velez and catcher Josh Thole, who doubled to start the inning. The Herd never again trailed in the game.
Buffalo starting pitcher Justin Germano pitched 5 2/3 innings and gave up 10 hits and five runs, but picked up the win. He strung together four straight scoreless innings from the second to the fifth, but was touched up for four runs in the top of the sixth.
Red Wings right fielder Oswaldo Arcia blasted a two-run homer in the sixth and finished with two hits and three RBI.
Bisons left fielder Ryan Langerhans closed out the scoring for the Herd in the eighth inning with a three RBI triple.
The 15, 852 fans in attendance marked the largest opening day number since 2004 and the largest weekday afternoon opener since 1999 for the Bisons at Coca-Cola Field. Brown said the energy from the crowd was great and it made his return to Buffalo that much more special.
"It was neat to see — people dancing and enjoying themselves," Brown said. "I enjoy Buffalo and the fans know how I feel about them — they enjoy good baseball."
NOTES: Home plate umpire Jeff Gosney was struck on the top of the head with a high fastball in the bottom of the third inning, which resulted in an 11-minute delay before he was helped off the field. … Former Blue Jays star second baseman Roberto Alomar threw out the ceremonial first pitch to kick off the season. … Bisons recorded five extra base hits in the game (three doubles, a triple and one home run). … Manager Marty Brown was ejected after arguing that third baseman Andy LaRoche was hit by a pitch instead of a foul ball, which the umpire called. LaRoche was also ejected. ...The Bisons were 9-7 against Rochester last season and 5-3 at Coca-Cola Field. … Buffalo improved to 16-10 all time in home openers played at Coca-Cola Field.Contact sports editor Matt Parrino at 693-1000 ext. 4117 and find him on Twitter @MattParrino.