PORTLAND – Coming to bat in the seventh inning, the Portland Sea Dogs ran into something that finally held up their hit parade.
The thick stuff rolled into Hadlock Field and ended the Sea Dogs’ 9-4 victory over the Binghamton Mets after 6 1/2 innings Wednesday night.
It was the first time a Sea Dogs game was halted by fog at Hadlock Field.
The Sea Dogs took a 9-1 lead after three innings and held on against the Mets. Brock Huntzinger (2-2) won his second straight decision, allowing four hits, no walks and two unearned runs while striking out six over five innings.
But the story of the game once again was the Portland bats. The Sea Dogs entered the game with an Eastern League-leading .285 average. They kept on swinging, with their fourth straight night of double digits in the hit column (12).
Chih-Hsien Chiang knocked in three runs with a double and single.
Oscar Tejeda stayed hot for a second straight night with two singles, two walks and two runs. He elevated his average to .296.
Both Alex Hassan (.426) and Will Middlebrooks (.328) contributed two singles apiece.
Tim Federowicz (.339) singled and both Che-Hsuan Lin (.281) and Jon Hee (.429) added a double.
“Guys are working counts and we’re seeing pitches,” Sea Dogs Manager Kevin Boles said. “We’re grinding out our (at-bats). These guys are not giving in.
“Our strike zone management has been key.”
Binghamton took a 1-0 lead in the second on a fielding error by Tejeda at second, a stolen base, balk and sacrifice fly.
But Portland scored three in the bottom of the inning. Chiang followed singles by Middlebrooks and Tejeda with a two-run double to deep left. He later scored on a throwing error.
In the third, Mets starter Brad Holt (0-1) left as Portland pounced. The Sea Dogs combined six hits with a walk and hit batter for six runs and the 9-1 lead.
“We ambushed the fastball early in the count,” Middlebrooks said.
Huntzinger did what he was supposed to do with a big lead: throw strikes. He finished with 79 pitches, 51 for strikes, using his fastball, change-up and slider.
“He had a real good feel for his off-speed (pitches),” Boles said. “And he threw a couple with 3-2 counts. He was around the zone all night. Real good tempo.”
The Mets scored two runs in the seventh off reliever Jeremy Kehrt, aided by an Allan Dykstra double into the fog in center.
The mist continued to thicken in the ballpark.
“It was tough to see,” said Hassan, the left fielder. “You couldn’t see the ball come off the bat.”
Before the bottom of the seventh, the umpires conferred with both managers and halted play. As players and fans waited, the Boston Bruins’ playoff game was shown on the video board.
It marked the first delay by fog at Hadlock during a Sea Dogs game since their first season in 1994. But that July game resumed. This one ended early, which the Portland players did not seem to mind.
“That last inning was nuts,” said Middlebrooks, the third baseman. “Every ball, even the ones on the ground, was hard to see.”
NOTES: Alex Wilson was initially the scheduled starter, but was given an extra day off. He’ll start today.
Portland improved to 7-9, 31/2 games behind division-leading New Hampshire and Reading. Binghamton dropped to 6-10.
The announced paid attendance was 3,243.
Hee, a utility player, got his second straight start, this time at shortstop. He is now 6 for 14.
Today’s noon game offers a few deals, including the Lunch Break Special (reserved ticket, hot dog, soda, Sea Dogs biscuit for $10).
Also, the kids cannot run the bases after today’s game, but senior citizens are invited to “walk the bases” today.
Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at: [email protected]