Sunday, March 9, 2014
BOSTON - The Portland Sea Dogs took a day to dream Saturday, playing a baseball game at Fenway Park.
Keith Couch, who is developing into one of the most reliable starting pitchers in the Boston Red Sox organization, started Saturday for the Sea Dogs at Fenway Park and was impressive: two hits over seven innings in a 5-2 victory against the Harrisburg Senators.
Photos by John Ewing/Staff Photographer
Garin Cecchini of the Sea Dogs slides across the plate as Harrisburg pitcher Richie Mirowski slips out of the way in the seventh inning.
WHO: Harrisburg Senators (Nathan Karns 7-3) at Sea Dogs (Terry Doyle 1-3)
WHEN: 1 p.m.
TICKETS: About 1,700 available
The fact they celebrated a victory added to the fun: The Sea Dogs beat the Harrisburg Senators 5-2 before 12,801 at Fenway.
Keith Couch allowed two hits over seven innings and Travis Shaw went 3 for 4 with a home run to lead Portland (53-54).
Billed as the Futures at Fenway, Saturday's game is an annual event involving Red Sox minor league teams. This year, Portland squared off against Harrisburg (59-49), an affiliate of the Washington Nationals.
"It's not just another game, it's Fenway Park. It's special," Sea Dogs Manager Kevin Boles said. "I tell you, seeing these guys on the field, you can see what's ahead for them. A lot of these guys, their future is here at Fenway Park."
Couch (8-3) would like to think so. Couch, 23, began the season in the Sea Dogs' bullpen but joined the rotation when Brandon Workman was promoted. Couch has since become one of the most dependable starters in the Red Sox organization.
"He was outstanding today," Boles said. "After the first two innings he executed his pitches."
In those first two innings, Couch may have been trying too hard, being too fine with his fastball and slider. He gave up a run in the first (triple, sacrifice fly) and another in the second (two walks and a single).
"The first two innings I was like guiding (my fastball), and I was trying to do too much with my slider," Couch said.
"Then (I said) forget it, I'll just throw it."
That worked. The only base runner Couch allowed in his final five innings reached by error.
Couch is from Long Island, where he pitched for Adelphi University. Saturday's crowd included 20 family members, friends and former college teammates who drove up for the game.
"I had so much fun," Couch said. "It's something special, obviously, because it happened here. Hopefully it's one of many."
Down 2-0, Portland grabbed the lead for good in the second inning.
Christian Vazquez and Shaw led off with back-to-back singles. Derrik Gibson walked with one out to load the bases.
Vazquez scored on Shannon Wilkerson's groundout. Heiker Meneses then drilled a fastball by Taylor Hill (2-4) for a double off the Green Monster, scoring two for a 3-2 lead.
Shaw came up again in the fourth. On Friday, he crushed two balls into the wind at Hadlock and watched them both get held up for flyouts. This time Shaw got all of a fastball. As he ran up the first-base line, he watched the ball disappear into the bullpen beyond the right-field fence.
"It definitely feels good to hit a home run at Fenway Park," Shaw said of his team-leading 13th homer.
In the seventh, Garin Cecchini walked with one out. He was stealing second base when reliever Richie Mirowski threw a wild pitch. Cecchini kept running to third.
Mirowski then bounced a pitch off his catcher and Cecchini raced home for a 5-2 lead.
Portland reliever Miguel Celestino pitched a one-hit eighth. New Sea Dogs reliever Matt Maloney allowed two hits in the ninth but stranded them for his first save.
The Sea Dogs and Senators will play again at 1 p.m. Sunday at Hadlock Field.
Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:
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Third baseman Garin Cecchini of the Portland Sea Dogs throws to first for an out after fielding a slow roller in the third inning.
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Derrik Gibson of the Sea Dogs comes up just short with a diving tag Saturday as Ricky Hague of the Harrisburg Senators reaches on a two-base error. The Sea Dogs came away with a 5-2 victory at Fenway Park.