Thursday, April 17, 2014
By MARK JEANNERET Special to the Telegram
PORTLAND - Matt Spring was clearly enjoying the moment.
Portland’s Heiker Meneses slides safely into third base ahead of the throw to Binghamton infielder Josh Rodriguez during Saturday’s game at Hadlock Field, won by the Sea Dogs 10-7 in dramatic fashion.
John Patriquin/Staff Photographer
WHO: Binghamton Mets (Cory Mazzoni 1-1) at Portland Sea Dogs (Drake Britton 3-3)
WHEN: 1 p.m.
WHERE: Hadlock Field
TICKETS: 1,600 available
After being mobbed by his teammates at home plate and saluted by the hometown crowd, Spring leaned comfortably against a wall in the clubhouse, fresh from a traditional towel full of shaving cream to the face. The smile said just about everything.
"I've never had a walk-off home run so it's pretty good (for it) to be a grand slam, it's pretty good," Spring said after lifting the Portland Sea Dogs to a thrilling 10-7 win over the Binghamton Mets in front of 5,663 Saturday afternoon at Hadlock Field.
The home run was a no-doubter -- a fastball that he didn't even feel off the bat. Spring knew it was gone right away, and just like that it was over the Maine Monster.
"What a good team win," said Spring, who also had a two-run homer to left in the fourth that gave the Sea Dogs a 4-2 lead.
"We shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times and we got some bad breaks. Everybody did their part. It was fantastic."
Kevin Boles experienced the walk-off winner in a different fashion. The Sea Dogs manager was relegated to his office after being ejected in the eighth inning for arguing balls and strikes. Reliever Jeremy Kehrt, who pitched three innings earlier, was running back and forth providing updates as Boles, in keeping with superstition, stayed glued to his office chair, not wanting to jinx anything.
"I heard the feet stomping a little bit on top of me," Boles said with a smile as he glanced up in the direction of the right-field bleachers perched on top of his office.
"I was able to get out there and catch Spring cross the plate and see them do their thing."
Spring's heroics allowed the Sea Dogs (24-16) to avoid suffering a second straight loss because of suspect defense.
Binghamton, trailing 6-4, surged into the lead in the eighth after loading the bases with no outs. A wild pitch by Brock Huntzinger (3-0) allowed one run. The Portland closer got the next two outs, and it looked as if the inning would end on a grounder to short by Wilfredo Tovar, but the ball found its way past Derrik Gibson. The miscue allowed two more runs, giving the Mets a 7-6 advantage.
Friday night at Hadlock, the Sea Dogs committed three errors in the ninth inning to let the Mets escape with a 6-3 victory.
"The whole team has shown such resiliency," said Spring. "We literally never think we are out of the game. We have a running joke, 'Here come the Sea Dogs' because we have a flair for the dramatics and we don't stop. We always play nine innings."
The Sea Dogs fell behind 2-0 early, but a run-scoring triple by Heiker Meneses in the second inning highlighted a two-run rally that tied the game.
Down 4-2 after Spring's first homer, the Mets scored twice off Kehrt in the fifth to tie the game at 4-4.
Peter Hissey stroked a run-scoring triple in the sixth to give Portland a 5-4 advantage. Tony Thomas led off the seventh with a homer that made it 6-4.