Sunday, March 9, 2014
By ALLEN LESSELS Special to the Press Herald
MANCHESTER, N.H. - That's an effective one-two punch.
WHO: Sea Dogs (Matt Barnes 4-4) at New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Deck McGuire 4-7)
WHEN: 7:05 p.m.
Charlie Haeger raved about the job catcher Christian Vazquez did both at bat and behind the plate handling Haeger's knuckleballs Friday night.
Haeger was pretty good himself and together they led the Portland Sea Dogs to a 5-1 win over the Fisher Cats at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium.
Haeger allowed seven hits and no runs. He struck out six and walked no one in eight innings in his best outing of the season.
"He did a terrific job for us," said Portland Manager Kevin Boles. "That was quality pitching."
Vazquez powered a 13-hit Portland offense with two singles and two doubles, and had a pair of runs batted in. It was his second four-hit game of the season and both came at New Hampshire.
"He was just locked in tonight," Haeger said. "You could see it at the plate obviously and he was locked in behind the plate as well. He was great. He's just got really good hands and he's a really good catcher back there."
Portland snapped New Hampshire's season-high win streak at six games and evened the four-game series at a game apiece. The teams meet again at 7:05 tonight.
The Sea Dogs got back over .500 at 39-38. New Hampshire dropped to 39-41.
Portland struck first for a pair of runs in the top of the fourth inning.
Michael Almanzar, who had three hits, led off with a single to left and went to second on a throwing error by left fielder Brian Van Kirk. After a groundout, Almanzar scored on a Vazquez single to left. New Hampshire starter Marcus Walden got another groundout and Heiker Meneses followed with another run-scoring single.
Haeger and the Sea Dogs made the lead stand up.
Peter Hissey helped end the fourth when his strong throw from deep right field nailed Brad Glenn, who was trying to score from first on Clint Robinson's long single.
"That was a big play," Boles said. "It took a funny bounce off the wall and he was out there a ways, and was able to wheel and throw and be that accurate. It was a terrific play."
Vazquez finished it off with a nice tag.
New Hampshire's Kevin Nolan and Ryan Schimpf had consecutive singles to lead off the fifth, and then Meneses started a sharp shortstop to second baseman to first baseman double play. Haeger struck out Jon Talley to end the inning.
The Sea Dogs tacked on a couple more runs in the eighth on an RBI double by Vazquez and another run-scoring single by Meneses.
Almanzar doubled in Garin Cecchini, who had doubled to lead off the ninth, to make it 5-0.
Clint Robinson's two-out homer in the bottom of the ninth off reliever Jeremy Kehrt was the only Fisher Cat score.
Haeger evened his record at 4-4 with his longest stint of the season and made up for his visit to New Hampshire in mid-May when he walked seven in five innings and got no decision.
"I told myself tonight I wasn't going to give them any freebies," he said. "Last time I was here I gave them seven or something ridiculous like that."
Not this time.