Monday, March 10, 2014
By ALLEN LESSELS Special to the Press Herald
MANCHESTER, N.H. — Left-handed starter Henry Owens and catcher Matt Spring teamed up to lead the Portland Sea Dogs to a 9-2 win over the New Hampshire Fisher Cats on Tuesday night at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium.
WHO: Sea Dogs (Matt Barnes 5-10) at N.H. Fisher Cats (Austin Bibens-Dirkx 3-4)
WHEN: 6:35 p.m.
OF NOTE: The Sea Dogs are 4 games behind in the playoff race with 7 games to play
Owens (3-0) struck out six and walked one in 62/3 innings, his longest outing in five starts. Of his 97 pitches, 60 were strikes.
He retired his last 12 batters.
"I would say it's my best game," Owens said. "Any time I can go deeper into the game it's more value to the team and we have a better chance to win the game. Luckily right now we're on a hot streak at the right time."
The Sea Dogs got 15 hits to win their second straight game in the series and pulled even in the standings with the Fisher Cats (66-69).
But they remained four games behind Trenton for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Division. The Thunder beat New Britain, 5-1.
Matt Barnes (5-10) starts for Portland at 6:35 Wednesday night against Austin Bibens-Dirkx (3-4) in the third game of the four-game series.
Owens credited Spring in the first time they were a battery.
Spring returned the compliments.
"Hank did a real good job commanding his fastball," Spring said. "When he commands his fastball, with his off-speed stuff, he can really make batters uncomfortable and I think he did a great job of that. I was just the beneficiary of it and was having fun back there."
Spring also chipped in on offense as Portland got to Toronto prospect Marcus Stroman early.
Spring had a pair of hits, including a two-run double, and scored in the second and third inning as the Sea Dogs jumped to a 5-0 lead that later became 7-0.
"Our guys came ready to play and to do that against Stroman . . . He's very athletic and has a quality arm and quality stuff," said Portland Manager Kevin Boles. "We were able to manage our at-bats and work counts and run up the pitch count a little bit. We impacted the baseball and swung the bats well."
Stroman was gone by the fourth inning.
The Sea Dogs scored two runs in the second and three in third.
Shannon Wilkerson, who had three hits, knocked in Spring with the first run with an infield single. Deven Marrero also scored on the play on a throwing error.
J.C. Linares led off the third with a single to right field. Michael Almanzar doubled down the third-base line and Spring knocked in two runs with a double to center. Two outs later, Derrik Gibson singled up the middle to score Spring.
Gibson knocked in another with his groundout in the fifth and Linares had an RBI single in the eighth to score Wilkerson to make it 7-0.
The Fisher Cats strung together four hits for a couple of runs off Pete Ruiz in the bottom of the eighth.
The Sea Dogs got those right back on Wilkerson's two-run triple in the ninth.