June 9, 2011

Sea Dogs: Yes, still perfect in June

Stephen Fife takes a no-hitter into the seventh as the Sea Dogs shut out Richmond to improve to 6-0 this month after a 6-25 May.

By Kevin Thomas kthomas@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND — When Portland native Ken Joyce was hitting coach for the New Haven Ravens in 2003, he watched a Sea Dogs pitcher named Charlie Zink carry a no-hitter into the ninth inning before it was broken up with two outs.

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Stephen Fife of the Sea Dogs delivers a pitch during a game Tuesday night against the Richmond Flying Squirrels at Hadlock Field. Fife pitched 6 1⁄3 hitless innings to help Portland to a 6-0 victory.

Photos by John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

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Alex Hassan connects for one of three home runs hit by the Sea Dogs, who have won six straight games in June to improve to 20-36.

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WHO: Sea Dogs (Brock Huntzinger 3-4) vs. Richmond Flying Squirrels (Ryan Verdugo 3-1)

WHEN: 7 p.m.

WHERE: Hadlock Field

TICKETS: About 2,000 available

On Tuesday, Joyce was back at Hadlock Field, as hitting coach for the Richmond Flying Squirrels.

This time, the no-hitter was broken up in the seventh inning.

Portland starter Stephen Fife (6-3) held Richmond to one hit over 6 1/3 innings, leading the Sea Dogs to a 6-0 victory over the Flying Squirrels.

"Memories of Charlie Zink," Joyce said as he walked off the field. "(Fife) was making pitches, (but) we chased out of the zone. We've struggled all year."

Justin Christian bounced a ball into left field for a single to break up the no-hit bid. That ended Fife's night at 87 pitches. He struck out seven and walked one, lowering his ERA to 2.94.

"Pretty good two-seam fastball tonight," Fife said. "Got the change-up going and the curve was there, as well. Just a matter of keeping batters off balance."

The victory continued the Sea Dogs' unbeaten June. After a horrible May (6-25), Portland is 6-0 this month.

"We're putting something together," Fife said. "The hitters have put it together. The defense has been great, and some solid pitching. A nice turnaround."

Chih-Hsien Chiang, Alex Hassan and Jorge Padron homered for the Sea Dogs.

Chiang is especially hot, with home runs in four straight games to increase his season total to 10. He has hit safely in 17 of his last 19 games, batting .389 (28 of 72) with seven home runs during that span.

"He's healthy, that's the main thing," Sea Dogs Manager Kevin Boles said. "He had lower-back stiffness and we had to watch him early on.

"Now he's feeling good and we can plug him into the middle of the lineup."

Chiang's two-run homer came in the first inning off Clayton Tanner (1-6).

Fife got out of a small jam in the first after an infield error and walk. He recorded 10 straight outs before another infield error in the fourth, then retired eight straight.

In 10 starts, Fife has allowed no runs four times.

Kyle Fernandez (one hit, 12/3 innings) and Eammon Portice (no hits, 1 inning, 3 strikeouts) finished the game, as the Sea Dogs' bullpen continues to improve.

"They're trusting their stuff and attacking the zone," Boles said.

Jeremy Hazelbaker had two hits for Portland, scoring two runs. Will Middlebrooks singled in a run.

Portland improved to 20-36 while Richmond dropped to 27-30.


NOTES: By homering in four straight games, Chiang tied a franchise record set in 2009 by Josh Reddick, who homered in four games from April 10-14 Besides hitting his fifth home run, Hassan (1 for 3, hit by pitch) remained second in the league in batting (.340) and first in on-base percentage (.460).


Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at: kthomas@pressherald.com

Twitter: ClearTheBases


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