May 21, 2013

Dogs can't catch the Cats

Three times Portland scratches back to one run, only to have the visitors extend their lead and streak.

By Glenn Jordan gjordan@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND - Ryan Schimpf said he hasn't found his groove yet.

click image to enlarge

Portland’s Tony Thomas slides safely into third base with a triple as Manchester infielder Ryan Schimpf waits for a late throw during the Fisher Cats’ victory over the Sea Dogs Monday evening at Hadlock Field.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

click image to enlarge

Portland starter Charlie Haeger delivers a knuckleball during the second inning of Monday’s game at Hadlock Field.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

TUESDAY'S GAME

WHO: Sea Dogs (Brandon Workman 5-1) vs. N.H. Fisher Cats (Deck McGuire 2-3)

WHEN: 6 p.m.

WHERE: Hadlock Field

TICKETS: 3,000 available

If the New Hampshire Fisher Cats third baseman ever does discover his rhythm, the rest of the Eastern League is in trouble.

Schimpf homered twice Monday night to take over the league lead and drove in five runs to power New Hampshire past the Sea Dogs 7-3 at a balmy Hadlock Field.

"I'm not where I want to be right now," said Schimpf, a 5-foot-9 left-handed batter who has 11 home runs despite a batting average of .219. "It's so early. There's still a lot of work to do."

Schimpf homered into the Portland bullpen on a 79-mph fastball from Sea Dogs knuckleballer Charlie Haeger to give the Fisher Cats a 2-0 first-inning lead.

In the ninth, Schimpf launched a 97-mph fastball from reliever Miguel Celestino halfway up the pavilion seats in right field for a three-run homer that broke open what had been a 4-3 game.

"He's definitely a guy who shows a lot of strength to his pull field," Sea Dogs Manager Kevin Boles said of Schimpf. "He put together a pretty good approach."

The victory was New Hampshire's fourth in a row and seventh in eight games. The Sea Dogs have lost three of four.

Three times the Dogs scratched back to within a run Monday night, only to see the Fisher Cats extend their lead. Portland held a 10-8 advantage in hits, but stranded 10 runners.

"We collected some hits," Boles said. "We just missed some opportunities."

The biggest came in the eighth when a walk to Travis Shaw and singles by Shannon Wilkerson and Kolbrin Vitek filled the bases with one out and the Dogs trailing by a run.

New Hampshire closer Joel Correno came on to face Heiker Meneses, who already had two doubles, and struck him out on a full-count slider.

Correno then fanned Derrik Gibson to squelch the rally and struck out the side in the ninth, all on swing-and-miss sliders.

"It's a tough pitch because it breaks so late," said Tom Signore, the former Sea Dogs and current Fisher Cats pitching coach. "He's actually got three different kinds of sliders. He's got a soft one, a medium one and a hard one. And he uses his (92 mph) fastball enough to keep hitters honest, so they can't sit on it."

New Hampshire starter Marcus Walden (3-4) earned his second decision in six days against the Sea Dogs. After allowing only two hits in a 3-0 victory last week he scattered eight in six innings Monday night.

Tony Thomas tripled and homered for the Sea Dogs, who also received RBI doubles from Meneses and Michael Almanzar. Peter Hissey scored from first on Almanzar's drive to right and barely beat the tag at home because he strained his groin while rounding second base and hobbled the rest of the way.

Boles, coaching third base, was concentrating on the ball in the outfield and realized Hissey was hurting only after waving him home.

"It wasn't great but it wasn't bad," Hissey said. "I was glad I was able to score to make it a one-run game. I didn't do any more damage."

"That was tough to watch," Boles said. "Talk about showing some guts. I told him next time, if you feel something like that, just shut it down, stay at third."

Haeger (1-1) settled down after early control issues to pitch into the seventh. He allowed seven hits, walked four, struck out four and retired the final seven batters he faced.

(Continued on page 2)

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