PORTLAND – Xander Bogaerts put the ball in play, and that is all the Portland Sea Dogs needed.
Batting with Portland down 4-3 in the ninth inning, with two runners on, two outs and the count 2-2, Bogaerts got his bat on a slider, sending a bloop to shallow center field.
New Britain center fielder Antoan Richardson, distracted by the shortstop and second baseman running towards him, dropped the ball. That allowed both runs to score in a 5-4 walk-off Sea Dogs win at Hadlock Field.
The win was Portland’s sixth straight as the Sea Dogs continue to lead the Eastern League East Division with a 17-9 record.
Both Bogaerts and Matt Spring had homered for Portland.
Spring began the ninth-inning really with a one-out walk.
“You can’t count these guys out,” Spring said of his teammates. “Maybe they don’t know any better, but they just keep playing hard.”
Chris Martin (2-0) got the win with an inning of perfect relief. Martin remains dominant with a 0.00 ERA in 172/3 innings (21 strikeouts/five walks).
“The thing he has been able to do is locate on both sides of the plate with his fastball, and that sets up his slider,” Sea Dogs Manager Kevin Boles said. “Two plus pitches.”
Sea Dogs starter Drake Britton allowed four runs on seven hits and three walks over six innings. His ERA is now 4.75.
Bogaerts gave the Sea Dogs the lead with a booming, first-inning home run off the center field batter’s eye, 30 feet up.
Bogaerts, the top Red Sox prospect, began the season batting .171 with no extra base hits in his first nine games. He is since batting .426 (23 of 54), with four doubles, three triples and two home runs.
“His home run (Friday) made an impression,” Boles said. “He’s starting to show good discipline and he’s going to all fields.”
After his home run, Bogaerts struck out three times. He shrugged it off.
“Good pitching. Got to give them credit,” Bogaerts said.
Bogaert’s blast came off New Britain starter Pat Dean, the former Boston College pitcher still looking for his first Double-A win.
Former University of Maine player Curt Smith hit a two-run homer off Britton. The Rock Cats aded two more for a 4-1 lead. Spring’s two-run blast to left-center in the seventh closed Portland to 4-3.
In the ninth against closer Michael Tonkin (1-1), Spring drew a one-out walk. Pinch-runner Heiker Meneses stole second. With two outs, Shannon Wilkerson reached on an infield single — a slow grounder to short. They both scored on the error in center.
NOTES: Outfielder Ronald Bermudez returned from Triple-A Pawtucket to the Sea Dogs. … Infielder Ryan Dent was then sent to Pawtucket. … Before Dent left, he was one of four Sea Dogs to receive their championship rings, for their part in Pawtucket’s International League title last year – along with Brock Huntzinger, Matt Spring and Tony Thomas. … Friday’s announced paid attendance was 3,368. … Travis Shaw went 0 for 4, ending his on-base streak at 25 games, dating back to the last game of 2012. …Today’s game will feature two pre-game concerts. Outside, the Kastaways will perform at 11:15 a.m. Inside, contemporary Christian singer Brandon Heath will start at 11:45 a.m.
Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at: