Redbirds win home opener with shutout; Penny Hardaway throws first pitch

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Memphis Redbirds took home the win in the team's first home game Tuesday night, and some tickets only cost a penny.

It's all part of Penny Night, which honors new University of Memphis hoops coach Penny Hardaway.

The Redbirds took early control of the game with 7 runs in the bottom of the 2nd against Chasers starter Heath Fillmyer . Patrick Wisdom, Alex Mejia, Wilfredo Tovar, and Oscar Mercado strung together 4 consecutive singles to begin the inning, plating 2 runs. After a wild pitch, Randy Arozarena doubled home Tovar for the 3rd run, and Max Schrock singled in Mercado for a 4-0 lead. Rangel Ravelo followed with another single, plating Arozarena.

The Chasers were unable to mount much of an attack against Redbirds starter John Gant (W, 2-0),  Gant tossed 7 scoreless innings, and allowed only 5 hits. He struck out 5 and walked 2.

Kevin Herget worked the 8th for Memphis, and Edward Mujica completed the combined shutout by holding Omaha without a run in the 9th, dropping Omaha to 1-4.

Since being hired last month, Hardaway has been a busy man making his rounds to various events.

Last week he threw out the first pitch at AutoZone Park as Memphis hosted Ole Miss.

Tuesday night he got another shot at it, this time with the Redbirds as the team played its first home game of the season.

Redbirds manager Stubby Clapp talked about the excitement Penny brings to the 2018 home opener.

"Yeah that's huge," Clapp said. "I mean, when you get a guy of his stature being able to come in and do what he's going to be able to do and have that opportunity. That's a great opportunity for him. A great opportunity for the city to capitalize on and welcome him with open arms."

With the next college basketball national signing period opening Wednesday, Hardaway said he and his staff are hitting the recruiting trail hard.

"It's a good process," Hardaway said. "It's all a part of it. I'm excited about the kids, we're gonna have coming in. We got a lot more work to do, but definitely excited."

This latest recruiting period lasts one month.

Prized recruit Tyler Harris of Cordova, the Tennessee Mr. Basketball Award winner, will announce his college intentions Friday.

Meanwhile, the Redbirds defeated the Omaha Stormchasers on Tuesday night 7-0 and face off again Wednesday at 11:05 a.m.

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