PORTLAND — Stephen Fife said he did nothing special.

Sure, he struck out six in six innings against the hottest-hitting team in the Eastern League.

The Binghamton Mets managed seven hits off Fife, but they were all singles. He didn’t walk anyone and wound up on the winning end of a 7-2 Sea Dogs victory on a chilly Tuesday night at Hadlock Field.

“Hard to imagine, seven hits and no runs,” Fife said. “But with great defense, that’s what I got. It was the support I got behind the plate and from the seven guys behind me.”

The two balls hit hardest off Fife (2-1) both died in Portland gloves. Che-Hsuan Lin ran down a deep fly to center to end the Binghamton first with two on base. Jason Place did likewise on a liner to the gap in right after a leadoff single in the sixth.

Catcher Luis Exposito threw out a potential base stealer at second to end Binghamton’s second and, with newly arrived first baseman Anthony Rizzo, picked off the trailing runner to squelch a threat in the fifth.

“I like throwing balls and getting outs for my pitchers,” Exposito said. “That gives them the confidence to go after hitters. (Fife) did a great job. These guys can hit and he just executed his pitches.”

Following the successful pickoff play — signaled by Rizzo, a Class A teammate of Exposito last season — third baseman Yamaico Navarro got the third out with a charging barehand pickup of a slow bouncer and a strong throw to Rizzo.

“There was a lot of topspin on that ball,” Fife said. “It’s pretty nice to have that kind of support behind you.”

But the defensive play of the game came with one out in the sixth and runners at first and second. Mets No. 4 hitter Zach Lutz hit a hard grounder toward the hole between Navarro and shortstop Jose Iglesias.

Both infielders sprinted to intercept the ball before it bounded past them. Navarro stretched out his left arm and the ball tipped off his glove. Iglesias somehow managed to flip his glove from an attempted backhand and caught the deflection, gathered himself and from deep in the hole threw to second for a forceout.

“Stuff like that you don’t teach,” Exposito said.

“We practice that,” said Portland Manager Arnie Beyeler, “Naw, that’s just a kid using his instincts and not giving up on a play.”

Iglesias had three hits and knocked in five runs. He tripled to the gap in right with the bases loaded in the first to put Portland on top 4-0 and bounced a two-run single up the middle on an 0-and-2 pitch in the fifth, giving the Sea Dogs a 7-0 lead.

Ryan Kalish also had three hits, including a mammoth home run that cleared the roof of the raised green structure housing a batting cage above the Sea Dogs’ bullpen in right field.

The victory improved Portland’s record to 18-12 and pushed Beyeler, in his fourth season, past original Sea Dogs manager Carlos Tosca on the franchise win list. Beyeler’s record with Portland is 230-227. Tosca, now Florida Marlins bench coach for his Sea Dogs successor, Fredi Gonzalez, went 229-195 in three seasons.

 

Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at:

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