June 30, 2011

Walking off the job

Alex Hassan homers in the ninth inning as the Sea Dogs back strong pitching with a victory.

By Kevin Thomas kthomas@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND - The Portland Sea Dogs had squandered bases-loaded chances in the seventh and eighth innings Wednesday.

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Alex Hassan did something Wednesday he'd never done before: He hit a walk-off home run. And his teammates responded with back-pounding as the Portland Sea Dogs emerged with a 4-3 victory against the New Britain Rock Cats at Hadlock Field.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

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Jon Hee of the Sea Dogs heads back to first base during the game against the New Britain Rock Cats. The Sea Dogs meet New Hampshire tonight.

Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer

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WHO: Hew Hampshire Fisher Cats (Robert Ray 0-1) at Portland Sea Dogs (Stolmy Pimental 0-8)

WHEN: 7 p.m.

WHERE: Hadlock Field

TICKETS: About 3,000 available



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But in the ninth, Alex Hassan saw a hanging slider come his way. The opportunity was not wasted.

Hassan crushed the pitch well over the left-field wall, giving the Sea Dogs a 4-3 walk-off victory against the New Britain Rock Cats at Hadlock Field.

"That was cool," Hassan said. "I'm glad we won."

Indeed, wins have been few for Portland (27-49). The Sea Dogs lost a one-run game in a doubleheader Tuesday before winning the second game -- and then Wednesday.

"That walk-off was a good boost for that dugout," Sea Dogs Manager Kevin Boles said.

Boles thought his team had the lead when Oscar Tejeda raced home on a wild pitch in the eighth inning.

But the ball hit the bricks and bounced right back to catcher Dan Rohlfing, and Tejeda had no chance.

"When that ball caromed off that brick, you could hear crickets," Boles said. "It's a credit to our guys that it didn't take the wind out of their sails."

The walk-off dramatics overshadowed a fine start by right-hander Chris Balcom-Miller (3.58 ERA).

Balcom-Miller, 22, throws a sinking fastball, change-up and slider, causing swings-and-misses or ground balls. He delivered his finest Double-A performance, allowing three runs, two earned, on four hits and three walks over 61/3 innings.

Of the 19 outs he recorded, 10 were by grounders, nine by strikeout. Balcom-Miller threw 62 pitches in the first three innings, then settled down.

"Those first innings went too fast," Balcom-Miller said. "I started to work a little slower and got into a groove."

He allowed only one hit after the third inning, a Mike Hollimon single in the seventh. But Hollimon scored on a Chris Herrmann double against reliever Blake Maxwell (1-1), making it 3-3.

Portland had scored two runs in the second inning, keyed by singles from Tony Thomas, Tim Federowicz and Reynaldo Rodriguez. In the fifth, a Mitch Dening double and Ryan Khoury's RBI single gave the Sea Dogs three runs.

Portland loaded the bases with one out in both the seventh and eighth.

In the ninth, Hassan fell behind 1-2 but then swatted a slider from Bruce Pugh (0-2). Hassan, who was just named to the Eastern League All-Star game, said he has had walk-off singles but never a home run.

It was his eighth homer of the year. 

NOTES: The Eastern League announced the rosters for its All-Star game July 13 in Manchester, N.H., and five Sea Dogs made it: pitchers Stephen Fife and Alex Wilson, third baseman Will Middlebrooks, and outfielders Chih-Hsien Chiang and Hassan. Both Middlebrooks and Chiang were previously selected for the All-Star Futures game July 10 at Phoenix.

The Sea Dogs' ever-evolving roster changed again with the arrival of reliever Charlie Rosario from Greenville. Rosario, 22, had a 2.64 ERA in 17 games. Rosario was needed to spell a spent bullpen. To make room for Rosario on the roster, the Sea Dogs sent first baseman Jorge Padron to Class A Salem. He was batting .247 in 67 games. More moves are coming because Portland currently has seven starting pitchers. One expected move today will be the return of Middlebrooks from the disabled list. He has been on a rehab assignment in Lowell.

Balcom-Miller came to the Red Sox last August in a trade with Colorado for Manny Delcarmen. Since then, Delcarmen has been released by Colorado and Seattle. He is currently pitching Triple-A for the Rangers (3.86 ERA through six games).

Federowicz stole his first base of the season, equaling his total of last year.

The announced paid attendance was 5,080. The Sea Dogs are sponsoring a donation drive today for Goodwill. Fans can bring clothing, books and other household items to Hadlock before the game. 

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at:


Twitter: ClearTheBases


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