PORTLAND – The curtain came down on the Portland Sea Dogs’ 19th season Monday afternoon.
It ended with a team celebrating on the field. But those joyful players hugging were the Reading Phillies.
Reading beat the Portland Sea Dogs 7-3 before 5,372 at Hadlock Field. The victory clinched a wild-card berth for Reading (76-66) in the Eastern League playoffs, which begin Wednesday. Reading will face East Division champ Trenton. West Division champ Akron takes on the Bowie Baysox.
Reading edged the New Britain Rock Cats (75-67) for the final playoff spot. New Britain won its last six games.
The Sea Dogs ended their year at 68-73, in fourth place in the six-team East Division.
Portland made a push in the second half, going 31-19 after the All-Star break.
Although Portland was out of the playoff, Manager Kevin Boles liked the effort Monday.
“The way these guys played their last game here, they got after it,” Boles said. “They took their approach seriously at the plate. The pitchers attacked the zone. It’s just the character of these guys. They play the game the right way.”
On Monday, Portland had nine hits — including a 3-for-4 game by Marquez Smith — but Reading had the timely hits.
Sea Dogs starter Brandon Workman (3.96) pitched five innings without a decision.
With two outs in the first inning, and a runner on first, Jake Fox swatted a Workman fastball off the left-field foul pole for a two-run home run.
The Sea Dogs took the lead, briefly, with three runs in the first inning.
Ronald Bermudez (2 for 5) led off with a single, and Smith tied the game with his eighth home run, a two-run shot over the left-field Monster.
After a Travis Shaw walk and Xander Bogaerts double, Christian Vazquez knocked in the go-ahead run with a groundout.
Bogaerts finished 1 for 4, giving the 19-year-old prospect a .326 average (30 for 92) in 23 games, with 10 doubles and five home runs. He is one of the bright, young players that joined this team late in the season.
“We got some future major leaguers here, no doubt,” Boles said.
The Sea Dogs stranded runners on second base in four other innings.
Reading tied the game 3-3 in the second inning with some small ball. Tommy Joseph led off with a walk. Leandro Castro reached on a bloop single. A sacrifice bunt put runners on second and third, and then Joseph scored on sacrifice fly.
Chris Martin (3-6) gave up the winning run on an error in the sixth inning. With runners on second and third and one out, second baseman Zach Gentile ran under a fly ball to shallow right field, but let the ball drop, as Reading went up 4-3.
Reliever Jason Urquidez gave up three runs in the final two innings.
Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at: