July 19, 2012

Just a near-perfect day for Dogs in a 12-0 win

Reliever-turned starter Jeremy Kehrt leaves after five perfect innings in Portland's matinee win.

By Kevin Thomas kthomas@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND - In the afternoon, the Portland Sea Dogs enjoyed a 12-0 win in a near-perfect game by the pitchers and two home runs from Jeremy Hazelbaker.

click image to enlarge

Jeremy Hazelbaker, right, heads back to the dugout with Jackie Bradley Jr. after hitting the first of his two homers Wednesday in the Sea Dogs’ 12-0 win over Reading.

John Ewing/Staff Photographer

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WHO: Portland Sea Dogs (Stolmy Pimentel 3-4) at New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Chad Jenkins 4-9)

WHEN: 7 p.m.

RADIO: WPEI, 95.9-FM, 95.5-FM

Afterward, the team enjoyed its annual lobster bake in Kennebunkport Beach.

Truly, it is the way life should be.

The Sea Dogs put together one of their best efforts Wednesday in beating the Reading Phillies before 6,180 at Hadlock Field. Portland pitchers held Reading to two hits and two walks.

Jeremy Kehrt set the tone, retiring all 15 batters, five by strikeout. A reliever who has joined the rotation because of injuries, Kehrt was going to be held to five innings -- whether he was perfect or not.

"He was on a short leash today," Portland Manager Kevin Boles said. "He pitched some (long games) and he's bounced around as a reliever who has been asked to start.

"It was very impressive what he did out there."

Kehrt (4-3) knew he would not be going the distance.

"It doesn't matter," Kehrt said. "As long as I can help, I keep pitching until they tell me I'm done.

"I had a good mix. Able to locate my fastball down early. Then, threw my change-up off of that. Then I was able to steal some strikes with my curveball."

Catcher Matt Spring said he simply held out his glove, and Kehrt hit the target.

"I don't know if he missed a spot the whole day," Spring said.

Chris Balcom-Miller relieved Kehrt and pitched a 1-2-3 sixth.

But D'Arby Myers ended the perfect game, leading off the seventh with a dribbler between the mound and first base for an infield single.

Aaron Kurcz relieved in the eighth and gave up a triple. He also walked two in the ninth.

That was all for the Phillies.

The Sea Dogs benefited from eight walks by starter Trevor May (7-7), as well as the long ball. Marquez Smith also homered for Portland.

What was impressive about Hazelbaker was the left-hander put his home runs over the message board in left-center, and the left-field wall. His home runs early in the year were all pulled to right field.

"Just being confident in my plan and trusting my hands," said Hazelbaker, who had five RBI.

And those hands work well for Hazelbaker, who is tied for the team lead in home runs (13) with Reynaldo Rodriguez.

"He's got power to all fields," Boles said. "We've always loved the bat speed. He might have some of the quickest hands in our organization."

Hazelbaker reached base the first four times -- making that 11 straight going back to Monday -- before fouling out in the seventh.

After the game, the Sea Dogs prepared for the bash at Kennebunkport Beach.

"Now we get to eat lobster," Kehrt said. "Couldn't ask for a better day." 

NOTES: Wednesday was not the first time a Sea Dogs pitcher left with a no-hitter after five innings. Clay Buchholz exited his June 30, 2007 start after five no-hit innings, with GM Theo Epstein watching from the Hadlock Field seats.

Outfielder Bryce Brentz left the game after running into the right-field wall trying to catch a ball in the eighth inning. It was a precautionary move. Brentz said he was fine. The Sea Dogs leave today for a four-game series in Manchester, N.H. They return to Hadlock Field Monday for a three-game series with Trenton. 

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at kthomas@pressherald.com

Twitter: ClearTheBases


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