PORTLAND — Ryan Lavarnway had himself a day; Will Middlebrooks, an inning.
The Sea Dogs’ bats did enough to help Portland split a doubleheader with the Trenton Thunder Saturday at Hadlock Field.
Trenton won the first game 8-7 before Portland took a 7-5 victory to end a five-game losing streak.
Lavarnway homered twice in the first game and went 2 for 2 in the second.
“Today was a good day for me and for the team,” Lavarnway said amidst the loud music and chatter in the clubhouse. “It’s a lot better in this locker room when we win.”
The win was the result of a seven-run second inning. Middlebrooks led off with a home run, then came up again later in the inning and singled in two more runs.
The day started splendidly for Portland. Jeremy Hazelbaker and Alex Hassan began the first inning with singles off Trenton starter Kei Igawa. Then Lavarnway crushed a change-up over the left-field wall.
Lavarnway, who batted .216 with three home runs in April, is hitting .302 in May with seven homers. His 10 home runs lead the team and are second in the Eastern League.
Lavarnway said he has stayed with the same routine.
“You have to know what your strengths are and go at it with an unwavering approach,” Lavarnway said. “Keep pounding the stone and it will eventually crack.”
Sea Dogs starter Stephen Fife (5-3) could not hold the lead, allowing 11 hits and six runs over 4 2/3 innings. Reliever Seth Garrison struggled in the fifth, giving up two more runs.
It was Fife’s first loss since April 30.
Portland usually wins when Fife starts. In fact, the Sea Dogs had not won a game without Fife since May 7.
But in the second game, the big second inning and a strong relief effort by Eammon Portice (1-1) gave Portland the win.
The second-inning outburst was fueled by Middlebrooks, Jon Hee’s three-run double and Chih-Hsien Chiang’s RBI double.
Chiang had a good doubleheader, going 3 for 6 with a home run and four RBI.
Portice entered with two outs in the fourth, Portland leading 7-4 and Trenton threatening with runners on second and third. He induced a pop fly to end the threat.
Portice saved the bullpen by finishing the game, allowing one run on two hits over 3 1/3 innings.
NOTES: The announced paid attendance was a sellout (7,368). Hassan played only the first game, going 2 for 4 to up his batting average to .348. The Game 1 loss was Portland’s 21st defeat in May, tying a franchise record for losses in a month, set in 2002.
Igawa, 31, is the Japanese pitcher the New York Yankees signed in 2007. New York paid a $26 million posting fee to Igawa’s Japanese team and then gave him a $20 million, five-year contract. Igawa, in the minors most of his career, made 14 major league appearances between 2007 and ’08, compiling a 6.66 ERA.
Ambidextrous Trenton pitcher Pat Venditte, who pitched in the second game, has a special glove he can use on either hand. But Venditte must declare which hand he will pitch with before each batter. The rule was created after a confrontation three years ago when a switch hitter kept changing sides every time Venditte moved his glove onto a different hand.
Two promotions will take place before Monday’s game.
A limited number of tickets are available for the “Breakfast with the Sea Dogs” at Hadlock from 8-9:30 a.m. Tickets are $15 for the continental breakfast. Proceeds benefit the STRIVE services for young adults with disabilities.
The second promotion is for those who have tickets to Monday’s game. They can arrive early for the 1 p.m. game, from 10-11:15 a.m., to play catch on the field.
Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at: