Tuesday, March 11, 2014
By AARON BRACY Special to the Press Herald
TRENTON, N.J. - Garin Cecchini had a long day he'll always remember. Drake Britton and the Portland Sea Dogs had a long inning they can't wait to forget.
WHO: Sea Dogs (TBA) at Trenton Thunder (Mickey O'Brien 4-2)
WHEN: 7:05 p.m.
Cecchini, a sweet-swinging third-base prospect, went 1 for 4 with a double in his Double-A debut for the Sea Dogs, but the Trenton Thunder scored all their runs in the sixth inning for a 9-2 victory Friday night.
Britton (6-5), who had given up a total of just two earned runs in his previous five starts, retired the first 13 batters and took a no-hitter into the sixth inning. Then the wheels fell off.
Jose Pirela led off the sixth with a double to left.
He advanced to third on a flyout and scored on a wild pitch, tying the game at 1-1.
Britton didn't retire another batter. After a walk, he yielded six straight hits, including a triple and three doubles, and left with a 6-1 deficit.
Pirela then greeted reliever Chris Balcom-Miller with a long homer to left to make it 9-1.
Britton was charged with a season-worst eight runs while matching his high of seven hits allowed. He had four strikeouts and two walks.
Portland Manager Kevin Boles was impressed that Britton kept his composure in the sixth.
"I thought he executed his pitches," Boles said. "All you have to do is keep competing, and he did that. He kept competing and kept his mound presence."
Before the sudden turn of events, Cecchini was enjoying his first day with the Sea Dogs.
"It did feel good," Cecchini said of his debut. "Of course I would like to get the win, but that's baseball. Things didn't go our way. I enjoyed it and had fun out there. Now I have my feet in the water."
A fourth-round pick in 2010, Cecchini was tearing up Carolina League pitching for Class A Salem. He earned a promotion after batting .350 with five homers, 33 RBI, a .469 on-base percentage and a .547 slugging percentage in 63 games.
He woke up at 4 a.m. Friday, flew to Philadelphia and took the one-hour drive to Trenton before settling in with his new teammates.
"It's an awesome locker room," he said. "I'm really going to enjoy this."
Boles also liked what he saw from Cecchini, who hit third in the lineup.
"Real good hands at the plate," Boles said. "He's got a live bat. He looks like he's a quality hitter. It was a good start for him."
The left-handed hitter grounded out weakly in the first, lined out to left in the third and scorched a line drive right at the first baseman in the fifth to leave the bases loaded before doubling to the wall in left-center in the eighth.
In the field, Cecchini made a miscue in the eighth when he should have held on to Pirela's slowly hit ball down the line but tried to get the out and made a wild throw. He also bobbled a routine grounder in the fifth but recovered with a strong throw that just beat Kyle Roller. He finished with three assists.
"It was a tough play, I think I got greedy," Cecchini said of the error.
"I wanted to make that play. I should've just ate it. I don't think I can make that play. I got greedy but I'll learn from it. Next time that happens I'll just eat it and learn from it. That's what the minor leagues are for."