Syracuse Mets celebrate a memorable Opening Day despite 5-0 shutout

Syracuse Mets celebrate Opening Day in shutout loss

Syracuse only mustered four hits after New York Mets legend Mookie Wilson tossed the ceremonial first pitch.
Published: April 6, 2022
Syracuse Mets Thomas Szapucki
Syracuse Mets starting pitcher Thomas Szapucki allowed two runs and four hits in three innings on Tuesday night.

For the first time in three years, Central New York hosted professional baseball in April.

The Syracuse Mets began the 2022 season Tuesday night against the Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate. Over 6,500 fans flocked to the ballpark and enjoyed the warm weather, relaxed Covid-related restrictions and an appearance by New York Mets legend Mookie Wilson.

“I think that all of the baseball people just wanted to be able to get back to the ballpark,” Wilson said before the game. “There’s no better place to be on a nice, sunny day.

“That’s just excitement, getting out of the house. The last two years have been really tough.”

Minor league baseball did not play at all in 2020, and the first month of last year’s season was also canceled. Now, the Mets are expected to play straight through September.

“We really think that this season can be exciting,” Mets’ Director of Broadcasting and Media Relations Michael Tricarico said. “We’re happy to be operating under more normal conditions.”

Wilson was just one of several promotions last night. The first thousand fans through the gates received a free bucket hat giveaway, and the Mets provided fireworks to the fans who stuck around after the game.

Syracuse Mets Mookie Wilson
1986 World Series champion Mookie Wilson signed autographs after he threw the first pitch at NBT Bank Stadium.

The game itself did not go Syracuse’s way, as the RailRiders shut them out 5-0. Oswald Peraza got the Railriders’ scoring started in the top of the first inning. With the count one-and-one, the Yankees’ No. 2-ranked prospect turned on a pitch and crushed it to deep left-center field, sailing it over the wall and right into the Syracuse bullpen. Oswaldo Cabrera followed that up with a double, and after he stole third base, Ronald Guzman lined a single into center to bring him home.

From there, SWB handed the ball to Matt Krook, who tossed five scoreless innings with one hit, one walk, and seven strikeouts. Syracuse’s counterpart Thomas Szapucki did not fare as well and lasted only three innings before being pulled.

“We got down early,” Mets’ manager Kevin Boles said. “I thought their pitchers did a nice job of keeping us off balance.”

Rob Zastryzny then worked three innings of scoreless relief and kept the game at 2-0. The Mets threatened with runners at the corners in the bottom half of the sixth, but Mark Vientos grounded into an inning-ending double play.

After that, the Mets’ bullpen could only hold on for so long. After a single and a walk to begin the top of the eighth, Estevan Florial ambushed a first-pitch fastball and launched a long home run onto the Salt City Deck in right-center. Just like that, it was 5-0 in favor of the visitors.

Syracuse only mustered four hits on the night, two each by Travis Blankenhorn and Cody Bohanek. Greg Weissert struck out five in the final two innings to lock up the Railriders’ win.

“Obviously we want to score some runs, especially on Opening Night, but as far as being a concern, it’s not,” Boles said. “We could come out tomorrow and score 10 runs.”

One extra feature that debuted during the game was the universal designated hitter. Previously, only American League teams and their affiliates would have a DH when hosting games. Now, pitchers do not bat at all.

“You spend a lot of time getting the pitchers ready to hit, and you’re always worried about the injury factor because they’re not used to swinging the bat,” Boles said. “I kinda like the universal DH. You can count me in – I’m sure the pitchers are relieved, too.”

Despite the loss, the atmosphere of the park was engaging all night. Hopefully, that’s a sign of things to come for the Mets this summer.

Syracuse Mets Opening Day
Oswald Peraza's first-inning home run put Scranton Wilkes-Barre up early on Syracuse.