Friday, March 7, 2014
By ALLEN LESSELS Special to the Press Herald
MANCHESTER, N.H. - The Fisher Cats had the last rally.
WHO: Sea Dogs (Keith Couch 10-3) at New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Casey Lawrence 0-0)
WHEN: 6:35 p.m.
OF NOTE: The Sea Dogs dropped 5 games behind in the playoff race with 6 games remaining.
The Sea Dogs scored five runs in the seventh inning to quickly answer a New Hampshire charge, but in the end it was not quite enough.
New Hampshire took the final lead on run-scoring double by Kevin Ahrens in the bottom of the seventh inning on the way to an 8-6 win at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium on Wednesday night.
The Sea Dogs fell to 66-70 and dropped a game behind New Hampshire (67-69) in the race for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Division.
Portland won the first two games of the series here and the teams wrap things up tonight at 6:35.
"We can win the series (Friday) night and get back home and we have Trenton at our place," said third baseman Garin Cecchini, who delivered the big blow in his team's five-run inning. "I wouldn't count us out."
Portland and New Hampshire both took a hit when Trenton came back to beat New Britain 9-8 in 12 innings. The Fisher Cats are four games behind the Thunder while the Sea Dogs trail by five.
The Fisher Cats came up with five runs and five hits in the bottom of the sixth to break open a 1-1 game.
Amadeo Zazueta had a two-run double, Ahrens and Kenny Wilson knocked in runs with singles, and Andy Burns scored the last with a sacrifice fly to right.
The Sea Dogs got the five back in short order in the top of the seventh.
Cecchini, who ran his on-base streak to 37 games with a first-inning walk, drilled a bases-loaded triple off the wall in center field to drive in the first three runs.
"He can impact the baseball," said Portland Manager Kevin Boles.
"He hits lefties and righties. He has an advanced knowledge of the strike zone for such an early age and the bat speed is there, as he definitely showed on the triple."
Cecchini scored on a fielder's choice by Christian Vazquez and J.C. Linares homered to left to finish off the rally and it was tied at 6-6.
"Our guys battled back," Boles said. "They could have let frustration set in, but they answered with five runs. I couldn't be prouder of our guys. They battled throughout."
New Hampshire took the lead back at 7-6 on doubles by Ryan Schimpf and Ahrens in the seventh.
The Fisher Cats picked up an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth.
The teams swapped second-inning runs.
Portland's Deven Marrero reached on an error by second baseman Lance Zawadzki and scored on Ryan Dent's double to left center.
The Fisher Cats got that back in one swing when Schimpf drilled a 2-0 Jeremy Kehrt pitch over everything in right field with one out in the bottom of the second.
Kehrt started and went 5 1/3 innings, allowing five hits and three runs.
"He was outstanding," Boles said. "The way he competed, especially on short notice, was terrific."
NOTES: J.C. Linares had three of the nine Portland hits and Marrero a couple.