Years of hard work and dedication came to fruition on Thursday night as the Auckland Tuatara hosted their first game at QBE Stadium.

On what should have been a solely joyous occasion, the club came into their Australian Baseball League season opener against the Perth Heat with mixed emotions following the sudden death of teammate Ryan Costello earlier in the week.

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Instead of simply eagerness and excitement, feelings of grief filtered through the camp - with those emotions clear on the faces of players as the stadium observed a moment's silence in Costello's honour - the Tuatara players with the letters 'RC' emblazoned in bold white letters on the right side of their chests.

After a tough week, the team would have likely relished the opportunity to step onto the diamond on an historic evening for baseball in New Zealand. Unfortunately, the Heat also came to make it a night to remember.

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On the back of three home runs, Perth claimed a 6-1 win in the first game of the season, with the Tuatara bats struggling to warm up.

The hosts were well set up by starting pitcher Kyle Glogoski, who struck out four hitters in two innings of work, with a solo home run the only hit he allowed.

Kyle Glogoski was solid through two innings for the Auckland Tuatara. Photo / Photosport
Kyle Glogoski was solid through two innings for the Auckland Tuatara. Photo / Photosport

But as was the case for the majority of last season, the Tuatara struggled at the plate. Without a hit in three innings, the Tuatara found themselves behind 2-0 after a second solo shot, this time off the pitching of Emerson Martinez.

The hosts showed signs of life in the fourth inning with a lead-off double to New York Mets prospect Hansel Moreno, who was later driven in by Los Angeles Dodgers prospect Jared Walker.

With a one-run deficit, things looked manageable for the Tuatara. That lasted less than an inning.

Relief pitcher Mitch Hughson ran into trouble in the fifth, giving up a three-run shot to deep centre field. He allowed another in the sixth, which pushed the margin beyond a grand slam.

That's where it stayed, with the visitors winning the first ABL game to be played at QBE Stadium.

The sides meet again at the same venue on Friday at 7pm.

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