PORTLAND — In a game featuring solid pitching, one clutch hit was going to win the first game of a doubleheader at Hadlock Field Tuesday night.
New Britain got it.
Deibinson Romero homered on Kyle Fernandes’ first pitch in the ninth inning to beat the Sea Dogs, 2-1.
Minor league doubleheader games are scheduled for seven innings, but the Rock Cats forced extra innings by tying the game 1-1 in the sixth.
In the second game, home runs by Matt Spring and Alex Hassan helped power Portland to a 12-5 victory for the split, ending the Sea Dogs’ six-game losing streak.
With the game tied 5-5, Ryan Khoury’s double, Chih-Hsien Chiang’s triple, Spring’s double and Jon Hee’s double sparked a seven-run sixth inning.
Reliever Caleb Clay (1-3) picked up his first win.
The opener featured a duel between prized pitching prospects in the Red Sox and Twins’ organizations.
Alex Wilson made his 15th start for the Sea Dogs and gave up one run over 52/3 innings. He was cruising with a 1-0 lead with two outs and no runners on in the sixth, but loaded the bases with a walk, double and another walk.
Wilson got to a full count on Romero and, after a foul ball, walked him to force in the tying run. That ended Wilson’s night after 106 pitches.
“He had good stuff tonight,” Sea Dogs Manager Kevin Boles said. “Command of the zone. Got the two quick outs and it looked like he got tired.
“He still had a crisp fastball, but he was working behind.”
Fernandes (0-0) got out of the bases-loaded jam, inducing a long fly ball run down by center fielder Jeremy Hazelbaker.
New Britain starter Liam Hendriks has emerged from an unknown out of Australia in 2007 to become the Twins’ second-best pitching prospect, according to Baseball America.
Hendriks allowed one run in six innings. He gave up a leadoff walk to fellow Australian Mitch Dening in the third. Dening advanced to third on a groundout and scored on Hassan’s bloop single.
The Sea Dogs had a chance to regain the lead in the sixth. Pinch-runner Vladimir Frias was running on the pitch when Tony Thomas doubled to right field. Frias would have scored, but he stopped briefly at second base before heading to third.
“I think he just lost (where) the ball (was),” Boles said.
Frias had a one-out double in the eighth, but reliever Deolis Guerra (5-6) struck out Thomas and Tim Federowicz.
Sea Dogs right-hander Michael Lee started the second game, coming off the disabled list after two rehab starts in Lowell.
Chris Balcom-Miller, originally scheduled to start Game 2, was bumped to today’s noon game.
NOTES: The Sea Dogs made several moves before the game, including activating Lee. Portland also activated infielder Thomas from the disabled list and welcomed back reliever Blake Maxwell from Triple-A Pawtucket. Thomas, 24, was acquired in the offseason from the Chicago Cubs in a trade for former Sea Dogs reliever Robert Coello. Maxwell continued his Pawtucket-Portland shuttle, coming back to Double-A for the third time this season. …
Three Portland relievers were taken off the roster in paper moves to make room for the other players. Miguel Gonzalez was put on the Pawtucket roster and Jeremy Kehrt was sent to Class A Salem, although both pitchers stayed in Portland. Also, Cesar Cabral was placed on the temporary inactive list. …
Wilson lowered his ERA to 2.82. Among those watching was Mike Hazen, the Red Sox director of player development.
“Very happy with the progress he’s made this year,” Hazen said. “Building off last season, which didn’t go so well here (6.66 ERA), he is showing us more consistency with his fastball, more consistency with his breaking ball. Still want to see the development of his change-up. He’s done that so far at this level. Moving up to the next level, that pitch against left-handers becomes so much more important. Still something we’re working on.”
Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or: firstname.lastname@example.org