MANCHESTER, N.H. — The Fisher Cats got one back.
New Hampshire grabbed its first lead with an unearned run in the bottom of the seventh inning Thursday night and held on for a 3-2 win over the Portland Sea Dogs at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium.
The teams resumed what amounts to a nine-game series – interrupted by the Eastern League All-Star break – and play again Friday night. They also meet Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.
The Sea Dogs took 4 of 5 games from the Fisher Cats last weekend in Portland.
Portland dropped to 63-35 and the Fisher Cats are 45-52.
Four of the first seven Portland batters had hits – including a two-run homer in the first inning by third baseman Michael Almanzar – but the Sea Dogs managed little against three Fisher Cat pitchers after that.
“We weren’t able to string together multiple quality at-bats, whether it’s walks or hits, later in the game,” said Portland Manager Billy McMillon. “We had some opportunities.”
The Sea Dogs threatened in the ninth but came up short.
Stefan Welch led off with a single and Derrik Gibson came on to run for him.
Jonathan Roof contributed an effective sacrifice, but Gibson overran second base and was out in a rundown.
Catcher Michael Brenly walked but reliever Gregory Infante struck out Heiker Meneses to end the game.
“It was one of those days,” McMillon.
Gibson was one of the three Sea Dog All-Star position players who arrived shortly before the game after traveling all day from Altoona, Pennsylvania. The two others, Blake Swihart and Sean Coyle, didn’t play.
Dalton Pompey led off the Fisher Cat seventh with a double to right field and scored when Welch, the first baseman, was charged with an error when he was unable to handle Derrick Chung’s hard grounder on his backhand.
Almanzar drilled a 2-0 pitch to deep center for the home run that scored Shannon Wilkerson and put the Sea Dogs in front with one out in the first. Wilkerson had singled to left.
Portland starter Luis Diaz worked out of trouble in the second but gave up a run in the third.
New Hampshire loaded the bases with a couple of hits and a bunt to start the second inning. Diaz got a grounder for a force at the plate, then struck out the next two batters.
The Fisher Cats scored a run with a walk and two singles in the third. Diaz then induced a double play and foul out to right field to end that threat.
No. 9 hitter Andy Fermin pulled a line drive home run to right field on the first pitch from Diaz in the fifth to make it 2-2.
Diaz allowed two runs on seven hits in his five innings. He struck out seven and walked two.
Sea Dog second baseman Ryan Dent helped reliever Wilfredo Boscan dodge trouble in the sixth. Dent dove to stop a grounder up the middle and flipped to Meneses at shortstop to start a double play.
“It was a classic bunt situation and we kind of anticipated that, but he was heads-up enough to hold his ground and made the dive and the flip,” McMillon said “That was a really nice play.”
Wilkerson and Brenly each had two of Portland’s seven hits.
Boscan allowed two hits and the one unearned run in three innings and took the loss.