The Buffalo Bisons opened their season at the newly named Sahlen Field in downtown Buffalo on Thursday afternoon. The Herd wasted no time building a big lead and their solid pitching led to an 8-3 win over the Scranton-Wilkes Barre RailRiders in front of 12,898 fans.

While the offense showed up in a big way, so did their starting pitcher Jacob Waguespack. The 25 year old posted 8 strikeouts, 6 hits and no walks over 6 innings of work. He threw 59 strikes on 87 pitches. He knew he would be starting on Opening Day about a week and a half ago while the team was still in Spring Training.

He spun a gem and limited his mistakes which was key to his strong showing.

“Wags was really good. I thought right away he was using the whole strike zone.  He stayed away from the middle of the plate,” second Bisons second year manager Bobby Meacham. “His changeup and his slider were really diving and they couldn’t catch up to them. He threw a lot o strikes and we saw the results.”

“I was just trying to be aggressive and set the tempo. Reese [McGuire] was giving me some good locations, we were pounding the ball inside and going back outside,” said the winning pitcher. “I felt like I did miss a few spots in the inning when they scored a run and I fell behind a couple of times, but I felt like, for the most part, I stayed aggressive and pounded the zone with my fastball.”

On the other side, the Bisons chased RailRiders LHP Gio Gonzalez after four innings of work, touching him up for three walks, eight hits and eight earned runs.

A big strikeout of Ryan McBroom by Waguespack stranded Gio Urshela on second base and allowed the Herd to get out to a 3-0 lead after the first inning.  Cavan Biggio gave Buffalo a 5-0 with a 2-run home run to right field in the bottom of the third. 

Biggio is the son of MLB great Craig Biggio and made his AAA debut on Thursday after spending 2018 in AA with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.

“You’re one step closer to your dream, to your goal, playing in AAA. It’s exciting. Growing up, I was 12 when my dad retired, being around the game at the highest level let me pick up things at an early age,” said Biggio. “My first at bat he gave me a first pitch fastball that I hit pretty hard. The second at bat I was looking for another fastball but he gave me two breaking balls. He tried to sneak a fastball inside and put a good swing on it.”

Another big offensive inning came in the bottom of the fourth where an RBI single, fielding error at shortstop and a sacrifice fly tacked on three more runs to give Buffalo an 8-0 lead.

The RailRiders broke onto the scoreboard in the top of the fifth with an RBI single from Mike Ford.

With Corey Copping pitching in relief of Waguespack in the top of the seventh, Matt Lipka ripped a line drive 2-run home run to left field and cut Buffalo’s lead to 8-3. Reliever Danny Barnes slammed the door on any attempts by the RailRiders to come back. He pitched two innings without giving up any baserunners and struck out two batters.

Thursday marked the ninth time the Bisons scored at least eight runs on Opening Day.  The team record for runs in an opener is 12. The Bisons return to action Friday night at 6:05pm for a Friday Night Bash when they host the second game of the series with Scranton-Wilkes Barre.