April 13, 2012

Sea Dogs left at a loss

The season is eight games old and Portland has lost seven of them, falling behind early against Binghamton.

By Kevin Thomas kthomas@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND - In the wake of winning only 59 games last season, the Portland Sea Dogs introduced themselves to the patrons of Hadlock Field on Thursday night, full of promise and hope for better days.

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Baseball and the Portland Sea Dogs returned Thursday night to Hadlock Field, with an announced crowd of 5,227 welcoming them and joining in for the national anthem as the teams lined up on the baselines. Then came the game and Portland lost again, 5-1 to Binghamton.

Photos by Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

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Second baseman Heiker Meneses of the Portland Sea Dogs waits for a throw that never arrived Thursday night as a member of the Binghamton Mets stretches to reach the bag safely. All part of opening day at Hadlock Field as Binghamton came away with a 5-1 victory. The teams will meet again tonight at Hadlock.

Additional Photos Below

TODAY'S GAME

WHO: Sea Dogs (Chris Hernandez 0-1) vs. Binghamton Mets (Zack Wheeler 0-1)

WHEN: 6 p.m.

WHERE: Hadlock Field

TICKETS: About 3,000 available

They still may come.

But not Thursday.

The Sea Dogs showed glimpses of good times ahead, but not nearly enough of them, losing 5-1 to the Binghamton Mets in the home opener at Hadlock.

Binghamton (3-3) jumped on Portland starter Brock Huntzinger (0-2) for five runs in the first three innings, and that was plenty to drop the Sea Dogs to 1-7.

Portland outhit the Mets 9-7, but the Sea Dogs didn't score a run after the first pitch. Juan Carlos Linares homered on that first pitch, to left- center field.

"He's an aggressive hitter and ready to hit from Pitch 1," Portland Manager Kevin Boles said.

The Sea Dogs loaded the bases with one out, on three singles after that homer, but stranded them

"Good (at-bats) that first inning. We just didn't get the timely hit," Boles said.

Huntzinger, 23, is one of those glimmer-of-hope guys in the Red Sox system. With a normally effective fastball, slider and change-up, Huntzinger is hunting for consistency.

Take the first inning. Huntzinger cruised through two batters (12 pitches, nine strikes), but then gave up a walk, single, walk and two-run single.

"I came out of the gate strong and (then) I shot myself in the foot," Huntzinger said. "I don't know what happened. I got out of my rhythm."

Huntzinger retired the side in the second, but allowed three hits and three runs in the third.

"He elevated his pitches," Boles said, "but he kept competing. We're hoping to see better signs from him in the future."

Jeremy Kehrt relieved Huntzinger and provided one of those bright spots: four innings of one-hit, shutout relief, striking out five. Josh Field pitched a perfect ninth.

"Bullpen did a terrific job," Boles said. "Jeremy Kehrt had some life to his fastball and threw his off-speed in timely counts."

Meanwhile, Binghamton starter Collin McHugh (1-1), the pride of the Berry College Vikings in Mount Berry, Ga., stymied the Sea Dogs, scattering seven hits and one run over 62/3 innings. Using an inside fastball and a killer curveball, McHugh struck out six and walked none.

"He gave up four hits in the first inning but then started mixing up his pitches more," Mets pitching coach Glenn Abbott said.

NOTES: The announced paid attendance was 5,227. Linares went 2 for 5 and is batting .406 Heiker Meneses, a 20-year-old second baseman, also had two hits and upped his average to .350. Today's game features a good pitching matchup with the Mets throwing their top prospect, Zack Wheeler, against Portland left-hander Chris Hernandez. Wheeler, 21, was the Giants' first-round pick in 2009, then was traded in the Carlos Beltran deal. Hernandez, 23, lost his first Double-A start Saturday, allowing three runs in the fourth inning.

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

kthomas@pressherald.com

Twitter: ClearTheBases

 

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Additional Photos

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Annie McNamara, left, and Chris Burke prepare to throw out the first pitch. Their grandfather, Dan Burke, who died in October, founded the Sea Dogs for the 1994 season.

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Ralph Treuel, the Sea Dogs’ pitching instructor, visits with pitcher Brock Huntzinger and catcher Dan Butler as Huntzinger struggled early in the game.

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Center fielder Juan Carlos Linares approaches the warning track to haul in a fly ball. Linares homered to lead off the first inning – the only run for the Sea Dogs.



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