August 27, 2013

Sea Dogs still can sniff playoffs

With Monday's victory over the Fisher Cats, the door to the postseason hasn't yet shut.

By IAN CLARK Special to the Press Herald

MANCHESTER, N.H. — The Portland Sea Dogs kept their playoff hopes alive Monday night with a 10-5 win against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.


WHO: Sea Dogs (Henry Owens 2-0) at New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Marcus Stroman 8-4)

WHEN: 6:35 p.m.

OF NOTE: The Sea Dogs are 4 games behind in the playoff race with 8 games to play

Portland improved to 65-69, four games behind Trenton for second place and the final playoff spot in the Eastern Division.

The Sea Dogs have eight games remaining and play at New Hampshire (66-68, one game ahead of Portland) again Tuesday. Henry Owens (2-0) starts for Portland against Marcus Stroman (8-4).

The Sea Dogs led 3-0 after three innings, fell behind 5-3 and then came back to blow the game open late.

Right fielder J.C. Linares was the star on offense, hitting a pair of three-run home runs.

"Recently we've had a hard time with runners in scoring position. With Linares, he's a guy with a lot of strength and he came up clutch twice with runners in scoring position. It was a huge boost," said Sea Dogs Manager Kevin Boles.

"He's a guy that kept a real good attitude. His opportunity early on (in the year) was limited but now he's getting a chance to play every day and we're seeing the bat come along."

Portland reliever Noe Ramirez shut down New Hampshire over the final 21/3 innings, working out of trouble for starter Miguel Pena (1-0) in the seventh and then cruising through the eighth and ninth frames. Ramirez earned his fifth save, striking out two and not allowing a hit or walk.

"He kept the ball down in the zone and was able to utilize a mix. He worked out of a jam. We're saving the inventory in our bullpen and I thought that was key," Boles said. "I thought Pena did a nice job, too."

Ahead 6-5 in the top of the ninth, the Sea Dogs broke the game open with four runs.

Derrik Gibson led off with a single and Shannon Wilkerson bunted his way on base. Garin Cecchini flied out to right, but Christian Vazquez singled home Gibson and Linares followed with a three-run home run to center field.

The game was a back-and-forth affair. Portland took a 2-0 lead in top of the second on RBI singles from Ryan Dent and Gibson. The Sea Dogs made it 3-0 with a run in the third. Cecchini led off with a double and scored when Michael Almanzar singled to center with two outs.

New Hampshire tied the game at 3-3 with three runs in the fourth. Kevin Nolan doubled and scored on Adam Loewen's single to make it 3-1. Gabe Jacobo then belted his seventh homer of the year to tie the game.

Second baseman John Tolisano hit a solo homer to center in the bottom of the fifth to give the Fisher Cats their first lead, 4-3.

New Hampshire added a run in the sixth to make it 5-3 when Nolan tripled and Jacobo singled him home.

Portland scored three runs in the seventh to take a 6-5 lead. Wilkerson stroked a one-out single and Vazquez walked with two outs.

Randy Boone (3-3) came on to relieve Marcus Walden and Linares greeted him with a homer to left to give the Sea Dogs the lead for good.


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