August 21, 2011

Quite a site for Hassan

The Sea Dogs lose to Binghamton, but Alex Hassan continues his impressive season with a big game at Fenway Park.

By Kevin Thomas
Staff Writer

BOSTON — For Sea Dogs fans, maybe the most distressing part of Saturday was not the 6-4, 11-inning loss to the Binghamton Mets before 14,515 at Fenway Park.

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Ryan Khoury of the Portland Sea Dogs takes the throw Saturday as Jon Malo of the Binghamton Mets slides into second base with a ninth-inning double at Fenway Park. Malo didn t score, but Binghamton came away with a 6-4 victory in 11 innings.

Photos by Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

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The Portland Sea Dogs line up along the first-base line Saturday for the national anthem at Fenway Park prior to the game against the Binghamton Mets. Binghamton came away with a 6-4 victory in 11 innings.

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WHO: Binghamton Mets (Matt Harvey 3-3) at Sea Dogs (Brock Huntzinger 5-11)

WHEN: 1:05 p.m.

WHERE: Hadlock Field

It was that Alex Hassan performed so well with much of the Boston Red Sox minor league front office watching.

The way productive prospects are being snatched off the Sea Dogs' roster, including Will Middlebrooks' promotion Friday, Hassan could be next.

During the annual Futures at Fenway doubleheader Saturday, Hassan enjoyed a 3-for-4 performance, including a two-run homer to center field that tied the game in the eighth.

The Mets know all about Hassan. With a runner on second and one out in the 10th, he was intentionally walked.

After Saturday, Hassan is batting .302 with 11 home runs. His OPS (combined on-base percentage and slugging average) is .889.

"Obviously he's put up some nice numbers," Sea Dogs Manager Kevin Boles said. "He's a guy who shows a lot of potential and in front of his home crowd, too."

For Hassan, from Milton, Mass., Saturday was extra special, playing in front of friends and family.

"It was cool," Hassan said. "Since I was a little kid, I thought about playing here."

Though Hassan's homer tied it, the Mets put up four in the top of the 11th, capped by Kai Gronauer's three-run homer off a newly promoted reliever, Chris Martin (0-1).

In the bottom of the 11th, Jon Hee's two-run single got Portland closer, but the Sea Dogs could get no more.

The score was not indicative of the pitching duel.

Sea Dogs knuckleball pitcher Charlie Haeger and Binghamton starter Collin McHugh matched scoreless innings through the first six.

For Haeger, excelling at Fenway was nothing new. A veteran of three major league teams, he pitched here with the White Sox in 2007, retiring Mike Lowell, Manny Ramirez and Kevin Youkilis.

Haeger cruised Saturday until a seventh-inning jam.

Haeger had not walked a batter through six but walked two straight with one out in the seventh. He recorded a strikeout and had two strikes on the next batter. But a knuckleball got by catcher Dan Butler.

Butler hustled after the loose ball and hurried a throw to second base. It skipped past second baseman Oscar Tejeda, allowing a run to score.

After another walk and an RBI single, Binghamton led 2-0.

Haeger left after 62/3 innings. He allowed seven hits and three walks.

"The (knuckleball) was better early than late," Haeger said. "I think I lost a little feel for it. Overall I was pretty happy with it."

The infield turned four double plays, and Butler threw out a base stealer.

Before Hassan's home run, the Sea Dogs' best chance came in the sixth when Hassan led off with a single. With one out, Reynaldo Rodriguez stroked a double to the left-field corner.

Hassan sprinted toward third and was stopped by Boles at the last instant. Hassan rounded third and dove back to the base, but Rodriguez was caught running toward third base. He was easily tagged out.

Butler then hit a bloop to center that was dying quickly. Center fielder Matt Den Dekker bolted in, dove and just made the catch.

Ryan Khoury led off the eighth with a walk. Hassan worked a full count and blasted a 92 mph fastball from reliever Ricky Brooks.

Both teams stranded runners in scoring position in the 10th.

In the top of the 11th, Martin gave up a bunt single. Then, with one-out, a perfectly executed hit-and-run put runners on first and third.

Eric Campbell singled in a run and Gronauer followed with his homer off the light pole above the Green Monster.

In the bottom of the 11th, pinch-hitter Ryan Dent singled and Jeremy Hazelbaker doubled him to third.

With one out, Hee singled both in with a line drive to right field, but then tried to go to second base on the throw home. He was thrown out.

Mitch Dening struck out to end the game.

After the game, Hassan was a center of attention among the media.

He's watched teammates get traded and others promoted. He remains in Portland, without a worry."

"My job is go and play baseball and see what happens," Hassan said. "I have no concern about (a promotion)." 

NOTES: Hazelbaker stole his 29th base with Portland. Counting his time with Salem early in the year, Hazelbaker has 41 steals. Last season, Hazelbaker stole 63 bases in Class A. Hassan adjusted well to playing left field at Fenway after playing at Hadlock with its 37-foot wall in left. "It definitely helped having played in Portland and being used to it," he said.  

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

Twitter: ClearTheBases


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Additional Photos

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Mitch Dening of the Sea Dogs heads to first base as Binghamton catcher Kai Gronauer chases the ball. Gronauer threw to second for a forceout.

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Mitch Dening of the Sea Dogs heads to first base as Binghamton catcher Kai Gronauer chases the ball. Gronauer threw to second for a forceout.

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Drew Pulsifer, 4, of Andover, Mass., is held up on the wall by his father, Rich, while seeking autographs before the Sea Dogs’ game at Fenway Park.

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