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Opening an Era Edmonton Spoils Ballpark Opener

Bob Hersom Published: April 17, 1998

Great party. Lasted too long, though.

That was part of the historic story Thursday night in downtown Oklahoma City, as the Edmonton Trappers ended a losing streak and crashed what had been a real nice Oklahoma RedHawk party.

In the first game at Southwestern Bell Bricktown Ballpark, the first-year RedHawks led Edmonton 2-0 after five innings.

But that's when the Hawks' highlight film ended.

The Trappers came back for a 6-3 victory before 14,066 fans - the third-largest crowd for an Oklahoma City home opener, behind throngs of 14,801 in 1992 and 14,488 in 1987.

The Trappers (3-6) ended a six-game losing streak. The RedHawks dipped to 4-5 by making four infield errors and allowing two unearned runs.

"We didn't make some pitches and we booted a few balls," RedHawks manager Greg Biagini said. "Things happen. It just got away from us a little bit.

"But overall it was a great day. The stadium opening went great, the first game is over with and now we just move on to tomorrow."

The RedHawks' starting pitcher, Todd Van Poppel, worked on only three days rest because scheduled starter Jonathan Johnson is out See REDHAWKS, Page 26RedHawks From Page 23 with back problems.

Van Poppel blanked the Trappers on four hits through five innings. But he was ousted with one out in the sixth, after allowing a walk, a single and a double.

"Van Poppel was outstanding. He threw as good as he can possibly throw, coming back on three days rest," RedHawks pitching coach Tom Brown said. "He really did a fine job. He battled extremely well and had all four pitches in the strike zone."

Winning pitcher Blake Stein worked six solid innings of relief. In his Triple-A debut, he allowed just three hits and two runs while striking out seven.

"He hit his spots, kept the ball down, moved the ball in and out and changed speeds," Biagini said. "You've got to tip your cap to him. He did a good job."

"It was exciting to have such a large number of fans yelling and screaming, even if they were booing us," said Stein, who pitched five straight shutout innings before allowing a run in the ninth.

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