Kevin McGowan picked up where he left on in 2014 and pitched the St. Lucie Mets to a 6-1 victory over the Bradenton Marauders in his season debut.
McGowan, who spent the second half of the 2014 season with St. Lucie, tossed 6.1 innings, giving up one unearned run on four hits. He struck out four and induced three double plays.
In his last two starts of 2014, McGowan gave up three runs in 12.1 innings and went 1-0.
The Mets offense was quiet early, but Maikis De La Cruz belted a two-run homer in the fourth off of Felipe Gonzalez and Colton Plaia hit a rocket of a two-run home run in the seventh to boost the lead to 4-1.
Jeff McNeil and Michael Conforto hit back-to-back RBI singles in the eighth to put the game out of reach.
Bradenton’s best chance to make a stand came in the seventh after McGowan was taken out. Two runners reached base with the Mets clinging to a 2-1 lead, but Kelly Secrest got Edwin Espinal to ground out to short to end the threat.
Akeel Morris, who gave up just five earned runs all season last year for Savannah, breezed through the eighth and ninth to get the six-out save.
The lone Marauders run against McGowan came in the fifth when Erich Weiss reached on a walk and advanced from first to third on a passed ball. He scored on a ground out.
After pounding out 18 hits , the Mets collected nine more . Champ Stuart, McNeil and De La Cruz had two hits apiece.