PORTLAND – Today marks the end of the annual Portland Sea Dogs baseball camp, where youngsters learn skills in morning sessions from players and coaches.

Stephen Fife’s performance wasn’t in the brochure, but he certainly put on a pitching clinic Friday night.

Fife held New Britain to two hits in six innings and retired the final 13 batters he faced to lead the Sea Dogs to a 7-5 victory before a crowd of 5,648 at Hadlock Field.

Second baseman Nate Spears launched a grand slam into the Portland bullpen to put the Sea Dogs ahead for good in the second inning after New Britain had scored a pair of unearned runs.

That was the only inning in which Fife failed to retire the side in order, as a pair of infield errors and a ball chopped over the head of third baseman Ray Chang helped give New Britain a 2-0 lead.

“To me, those were all quality pitches,” said Fife, who threw 59 strikes among his 80 pitches. “I definitely wasn’t discouraged at all by what happened.”

Fife’s fortune turned on the next batter when a fly to the right-field corner with runners at second and third turned into a double play. Chih-Hsien Chiang hustled under the ball and not only made the catch, but also uncorked such a strong throw to the plate that the runner on third, Juan Portes, hit the brakes halfway home and retreated to the bag.

The runner on second, Mark Dolence, also tagged up. Too late, he realized he also had to retreat, and a quick throw from Sea Dogs catcher Luis Exposito to shortstop Yamaico Navarro ended the Rock Cats’ only threat against Fife.

“I’ve never seen that,” Exposito said of the unusual double play.

“I got blessed with the blunder on the bases,” said Fife, who moments earlier saw an infield grounder take a bad hop off the hands of Spears and a potential double-play grounder thrown wide of second by first baseman Anthony Rizzo.

Chang at third base and Che-Hsuan Lin in center also made impressive plays to back Fife’s pitching, which started with strike one to 14 of the 21 batters he faced. Only once did he fall behind 2-and-0. Never was he behind 3-and-1, and only two batters even reached a full count.

“Good things happen when you’re working ahead in the count,” said Sea Dogs Manager Arnie Beyeler.

Trailing 7-2 when Fife left, the Rock Cats made it close with three solo home runs — two by Joe Benson — off reliever Ryan Miller, who still drew praise from Beyeler for stranding three runners in the seventh.

“That’s a big development point, not to let it snowball,” Beyeler said.

After Chris Parmalee and Benson homered in the eighth off Miller, Bryce Cox came on and set down all four batters he faced to record his 11th save.

The Sea Dogs scoring, other than Spears’ grand slam, came on an RBI single by Chiang in the second, smart baserunning by Matt Sheely in the fourth and a run-scoring grounder by Luis Segovia in the sixth.

Sheely, who has been one of the instructors at the camp this week, hit a drive to right-center with one out and had a decision to make as he approached second base. Beyeler, coaching third, had his hands down, meaning it was up to Sheely whether to try for a triple.

“I’ve got some wheels,” Sheely said, “so I decided to give it a shot.”

On Segovia’s ensuing shallow fly to left, Sheely tagged and took three hard strides toward home, enough to draw a hurried throw that sailed to the backstop. When New Britain pitcher Tyler Robertson (1-9) couldn’t corral it quickly, Sheely took off for home and slid in safely.

The victory was the 16th in 20 games for the Sea Dogs against New Britain. They meet again for three games before the All-Star break, then go right back at it for a four-game series in Connecticut next week.

“They’re still a good team,” Spears said of the Rock Cats, who are 24-64. “They have a lot of talent and some good pitching.”

The grand slam was the first of his career, Spears said. The last Sea Dog to hit one was Lars Anderson in August 2008.

“There were two outs and I was just trying to drive in some runs,” said Spears, who ripped a hard foul two pitches before his home run.

“(Robertson) basically put it in the same spot and I put a better swing on it.”

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

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