PITTSFIELD -- A spot start and a spot relief appearance helped the Pittsfield Suns win what their manager called the best game they've played to date.
Matt O'Kipney pitched five innings and former Taconic pitcher Peter Gregory pitched a shutout inning of relief in his first day wearing a Suns uniform as Pittsfield beat Brockton 5-3 Wednesday night. It was the third straight loss for the Rox.
"It was good -- defensively and with pitching," said Pittsfield first baseman Bo Slemons, who registered his first two hits of the season. "We strung some hits together. It was a good game all around."
For O'Kipney, it was his first start of the season. The left-hander from UMass Lowell had three relief appearances, and didn't know what manager Tom Conley had in mind for him.
"He told me when I got to the field today," said O'Kipney. "It was great. I like starting a lot more because you know you're pitching and you can get mentally prepared better."
O'Kipney gave up single runs in the first and second innings and pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth. He scattered four hits and six walks, but did his job by keeping the Rox off the scoreboard.
Trailing 2-1 after three innings, Pittsfield took the lead for keeps with three runs on two hits. The key hit of the inning was an RBI double to left by Slemons, whose first hit in 22 at-bats was a third-inning single. Slemons hit an 0-2 pitch from Michael Bortolatti that plated Luke Reynolds with what proved to be the winning run.
"It felt good to feel like I'm finally playing baseball again," Slemons said. "I feel like I was just watching for the last couple of games. It's good to finally break out. It's a weight off the shoulders."
Gregory, who played at Eastern Connecticut this year, also took a bow in the Wednesday spotlight. The Suns were a bit shorthanded because pitcher Alex Basso was missing a start, and some other pitchers were resting because of the league's pitch count rules. Conley called the former Taconic pitcher on Tuesday, and on Wednesday, the right-hander was wearing No. 26 and got the ball for the seventh inning.
"I can't even describe it," said Gregory, when asked how it felt to pitch for the Suns. "It was awesome. Being in my hometown was great."
The leadoff hitter in the seventh, Tyler Graves, reached on an error by second baseman Zach Goldstein. Gregory struck out Rob McCunney and Kyle Silva before forcing Graves at second to end the inning.
Gregory said he was a little overpumped before the game, but not after he threw his first pitch.
"I was excited, but I was calm at the same time," he said. "My offspeed pitch was good and my fastball felt great."
The Suns managed seven hits against two Brockton pitchers, but did just enough to win their second straight.