Saturday, May 18, 2013
By DAN GILLES Special to the Press Herald
AKRON, Ohio — Xander Bogaerts arrived with the Portland Sea Dogs with a lot of fanfare.
It didn’t take the No. 2 prospect in the Boston Red Sox organization long to make some noise Thursday night.
WHO: Portland Sea Dogs (Stolmy Pimentel 4-5) at Erie SeaWolves (Jared Gayhart 1-2)
WHEN: 7:05 p.m.
WHERE: Jerry Uht Park
The 19-year-old Bogaerts, the youngest player in the Eastern League, broke a tie with a leadoff home run to center in the sixth inning, leading the Sea Dogs to a 5-3 win over the Akron Aeros in front of 2,922 fans at Canal Park.
The win gave the Sea Dogs (55-63) their first season series win over Akron (68-48) since 1998. Portland is 7-2 during its 15-game stretch against the Western Division.
Bogaerts’ home run came off Aeros reliever Rob Bryson (4-3) on a 2-0 pitch and came one inning after the Sea Dogs rallied from a 3-0 deficit with an eight-batter, three-run fifth.
“That was a pretty impressive home run,” Sea Dogs Manager Kevin Boles said. “That’s something you read about in Greek mythology. What a terrific swing. He’s a guy who had success in Salem. I had seen him a couple of times in spring training and I was impressed with him then. It was a good debut for him.”
Bogaerts went 2 for 5 in his Sea Dogs debut, adding a single to left in the seventh. He also made some nice defensive plays at shortstop and showed speed in trying to beat out grounders.
“I was pretty excited to hit a home run in my first game,” said Bogaerts, who batted sixth. “I was just going out there and trying to have fun and make a good impression on my teammates. I think a home run would do it.”
The Sea Dogs had trouble getting much of anything going against left-hander T.J. House early. Portland starter Jeremy Kehrt (7-3) surrendered three runs on four hits, including RBI doubles by Jordan Henry and Nick Weglarz, in the third to give Akron a 3-0 lead.
But the Sea Dogs started to rally in the fifth.
Matt Spring led off with a single and after House got the next two hitters, Jackie Bradley Jr. singled and Marquez Smith walked on four pitches.
Jeremy Hazelbaker drilled a 1-1 pitch into shallow center for a single, scoring Spring and Bradley for his 55th RBI of the season to cut the lead to 3-2.
Bryce Brentz followed with an RBI single to right, scoring Smith to make it 3-3. House recovered to get Travis Shaw on a soft liner back to the mound.
“House had a good mix going,” Boles said. “He was able to locate his fastball and we were able to work some (at-bats) on him and get him to work a little deeper in the count and out of the stretch. Our guys put some pretty good passes on the ball.”
The Sea Dogs added a run in the seventh on a bases-loaded, one-out groundout by Spring.
Michael Olmsted, aided by a double-play grounder, faced the minimum number of hitters in the eighth and ninth to pick up his second save.
“We’ve made some changes to our roster and brought in some new additions,” Boles said. “But the biggest reason is the clubhouse. This is a tough group. No matter what happens the night before, they’re ready to go the next day. A lot of these guys will be future major leaguers and they’re playing a better brand of baseball right now.”
NOTES: Bogaerts hit .302 with 15 home runs and 64 RBI at Salem of the Carolina League.