WILLIAMSPORT - Bob Stumpo slowly let the words roll out of his mouth.
"First. Pro. Home run," the Williamsport Crosscutters catcher said. "Yeah, that sounds pretty good."
The burly backstop did a bit of everything in Williamsport's 7-0, season-opening win over the State College Spikes at Bowman Field Friday. He jump-started the 'Cutters' five-run third inning with that solo homer to right-center, stopped a run at the plate by holding on to the ball in a collision, and helped first-year manager Mickey Morandini pick up his first win as a professional manager.
"(Baseball) is easy when your kids come out and play good baseball," Morandini said. "We swung the bats real well. I didn't know quite what to expect from them swinging the bats. I thought we might be a little over-aggressive. But we put some real good swings on it. Even a lot of our outs were hit hard."
What Morandini got from his offense was 13 hits and all nine guys reaching base at least once. He got a solo homer from Stumpo, and a three-run shot from 18-year old third baseman Maikel Franco.
Even Taylor Black, who was 0-for-3 with a walk, flew out to the warning track three times in the spacious confines of Bowman Field. Stumpo drove a ball, this time hitting right-handed, to the warning track with the bases loaded in the fifth inning, narrowly missing a grand slam.
"We made a lot of good contact and a lot of hard outs," Morandini said. "It's pleasant to see that we're being aggressive in the strike zone and getting the barrel on the ball."
Stumpo's homer seemed to open the floodgates against State College starting pitcher Nick Klingham. Two batters after his blast to right-center field, Kyrell Hudson reached on a well-placed bunt single. After a flyout to the wall from Witer Jimenez moved Hudson to third, Kelly Dugan flipped a 1-2 pitch into left field to score Hudson.
The Cutters first baseman battled back from an 0-2 count to work a nine-pitch walk with two outs to keep the third-inning alive. Three pitchers later, Franco, who hit just two homers in 51 games in the Gulf Coast League a year ago, drove an 0-2 fastball over the left-center field fence to give the Cutters a 5-0 lead.
"Two out runs can kill you. They're probably the most important runs you can score or give up, depending on which side you're on," Morandini said. "When I talked to the team after the game I said (Murray's) walk will probably get lost by a lot of people, but he was 0-2 and kept fouling off pitches and drew a walk and then we hit a three-run homer. That was huge.
"It feels good to get a win and play good baseball," Morandini said. "I didn't expect us to come out and hit home runs the way we did, but once in a while you're going to need that in a game. It was good to see we played all three phases of the game tonight. We ran the bases well and stole some bases. We played good defense and we got good pitching."