OLD ORCHARD BEACH — With both starting pitchers struggling mightily early on, Wednesday night’s season-opener between Nashua and Old Orchard Beach was always going to be a battle of the bullpens.

Unfortunately for the Raging Tide, it was the Silver Knights who won that jousting match, with ease.

After starter Jake Mellin was tagged for five runs on six hits and four walks in just 3.2 innings, Nashua’s bullpen bailed him out as three relievers combined for 5.1 innings of scoreless ball, something OOB’s pen couldn’t match as the Silver Knights pulled away for a 9-5 victory in each team’s FCBL opener on a damp and foggy night at The Ballpark.

OOB starter Will Ore also left after giving up five runs ”“ four earned ”“ in 3.2 innings, but was let off the hook as the Tide rallied to score three runs in the fourth and make it 5-5 after four.

But Nashua righty Sam Nepiarsky came out and shut down the Raging Tide offense, allowing just one hit over 3.1 innings. The Silver Knights totaled three extra-base hits while scoring three runs in the sixth to take control of the game for good.

In total, OOB relievers Kyle Edwards, Raz Bracha and Dillon Corliss gave up eight hits and five walks in their combined 5.1 innings of work, while the Nashua relief trio of Nepiarsky, Travis Landry and Shawn Heide gave up just two walks and two hits in the same amount of time.

“It’s early, and a lot of these guys are getting their feet wet and working through some things,” Raging Tide manager Chris Torres said. “First couple games, you’re always feeling out your guys and your bullpen, and now (assistant coach) Mike (Tarry) will go to the drawing board and see what he’s got.”

The Raging Tide had a bright start with two runs in the first. Rahiem Cooper led off with a triple to center and scored on an infield single by Aaron Wilson, who came around to score on Trevor Fink’s two-out single.

After sailing through the first two innings, Ore was touched up for two runs in the third inning and got little help from his defense.

After a walk, double and hit batsman loaded the bases for Nashua with one out, Ore looked ready to limit the damage as Joe Napolitano lifted a fly ball to the warning track in right. But Cooper seemed to lose the ball in the fog and dropped it, allowing two runs to score and tie the game at 2-2.

“That hurt, but I hurt myself, too,” Ore said. “I walked a couple people, hit a couple people, and that’s really inexcusable. I had a lot of jitters, starting opening day and wanting to do well my first start. That got to me a little bit.”

Ore then gave up three more runs in the fourth, all with two outs. A walk and single to second base on a hit-and-run play started the Sliver Knights’ rally, and back-to-back RBI singles by Trevor Holmes and Carson Helms made it 4-2 and ousted Ore, whose replacement, Edwards, gave up another RBI single to Napolitano before finally getting the third out.

“He was in command the first two innings,” Torres said of Ore. “If you take away the error in the outfield, he threw well. After the error, they did hit him a little bit, and he was jumping out a little bit, but he’ll be fine.”

OOB came back to tie the game at 5-5 in the bottom half of the inning thanks to a key error and an RBI single by Wilson, but Nepiarsky came in with the bases loaded and induced a lineout from Fink to end the inning.

Nashua got those three runs back in the sixth, as a lead-off triple by Helms and back-to-back run-scoring doubles by Brandon Walsh and Griffin Garabedian made it 8-5 ”“ a lead the Silver Knights would add on to in the ninth as three walks by Corliss led to an RBI groundout off the bat of Pat Florence.

“We hit a lot of guys and walked a ton, and all of those guys seemed like they scored,” Torres said. “It happens. We’ve got to get it out now.”

The Raging Tide will look to get into the win column tonight when it hosts the North Shore Navigators at 7 p.m. After just one game in a two-month season, albeit a loss, Torres said he’s far from concerned.

“We won the first game last year, and did we bring home the championship? No, so it’s the opposite now,” Torres said. “It’s just the first game of the year. We’re hoping to come out of this first week at least .500 or a game above. That’s all I’m hoping for.”

NOTES: Former Wells High School standout Paul McDonough started at second base for Old Orchard Beach, going 1-for-2 with two walks and a run scored ”¦ The Raging Tide are now 1-3 in home-openers in franchise history ”¦ The Raging Tide will celebrate the 30th anniversary of The Ballpark’s opening with a “birthday bash” tonight.

Staff Writer Cameron Dunbar can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 323 or [email protected]

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