August 1, 2012

Clutch pitching produces a win for Portland

Three pitchers combine on a shutout as the Sea Dogs allow runners but then strand them.

By Kevin Thomas
Staff Writer

PORTLAND - One bunt. One grounder through the infield. A throwing error.

click image to enlarge

Reynaldo Rodriguez, who was running on the pitch, eludes a grounder Tuesday night during the Portland Sea Dogs’ 1-0 victory over the Akron Aeros at Hadlock Field. Rodriguez was promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket after the game.

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

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WHO: Portland Sea Dogs (Mike MacDonald 1-0) vs. Akron Aeros (Paolo Espino 5-2)

WHEN: 7 p.m.

WHERE: Hadlock Field

TICKETS: About 2,700 remaining

That's all the Portland Sea Dogs needed Tuesday night for a 1-0 win over the Akron Aeros at Hadlock Field.

Jeremy Hazelbaker, who led off the sixth inning with a bunt single, eventually scored on a throwing error as the Aeros couldn't turn a double play.

Jason Urquidez, Chris Balcom-Miller (4-5) and Brock Huntzinger combined on the shutout.

Urquidez, the reliever obtained from the independent Atlantic League, made his second straight spot start, helping a depleted rotation.

Despite allowing at least one runner every inning -- on six hits, a walk and an error -- Urquidez kept coming up with the clutch pitch.

"You've got to battle," said Urquidez, who lowered his ERA to 2.76. "People get on base. All you can do is keep them from crossing the plate."

"Urquidez did a great job," Manager Kevin Boles said. "His pitch count was running up and he was able to settle in."

Balcom-Miller allowed a single in the sixth and two runners to reach in the seventh (hit batter, error) with one out. He got a strikeout and fly ball to end it. Since joining the bullpen, Balcom-Miller has a 3.21 ERA.

Huntzinger, another converted starter, earned his fifth save with two perfect innings.

Huntzinger also has shined since becoming a reliever (2.72 ERA).

The Sea Dogs beat tough left-hander Giovanni Soto (6-8, 3.84 ERA). Soto, who no-hit Altoona two weeks ago, held the Sea Dogs to four hits and no walks over seven innings, striking out five.

Hazelbaker was 0 for 2 when he came up with one out in the sixth.

"A lefty falling off (the mound). That's my key," said Hazelbaker, who grounded a bunt toward the second baseman and was easily safe.

"A terrific bunt," Boles said.

Marquez Smith followed with a ground single to left.

Reynaldo Rodriguez then hit a grounder to shortstop Juan Diaz. It looked like a routine double play.

Diaz tossed to second baseman Justin Toole for one out, but Toole's throw sailed over the first baseman's head. Hazelbaker easily scored.


NOTES: Rodriguez, the first baseman, got the news after the game that he is heading to Triple-A, replacing the traded Lars Anderson. Catcher Matt Spring returned from fill-in duty at Pawtucket. To make room, catcher Jayson Hernandez returned to the disabled list. Steven Wright, acquired in the deal for Anderson, is expected to be activated soon. The announced paid attendance was 5,256.

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

Twitter: ClearTheBases


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