NEW BRITAIN, Conn. – The prospects of Jair Fernandez playing baseball again this season for the New Britain Rock Cats looked bleak a week ago.

A collision at home plate against Reading on July 8 looked ominously like torn knee ligaments. The disabled list seemed a sure thing. Becoming a hero a week later was too much to expect but as he said, baseball can be a funny game.

Fernandez slammed a walk-off two-run homer in the bottom of the 10th inning Friday night to give the New Britain Rock Cats a 6-4 win over the Portland Sea Dogs and stretch their winning streak to three games.

Fernandez’s knee injury was just a strain. He did not start the game but Manager Jeff Smith went to his bench for an eighth-inning rally and Fernandez was needed to finish. He finished with a bang, beating Bryson Cox (1-5) to send Portland to a third straight defeat.

“He started me with a slider and I wasn’t looking for that pitch so I took it,” Fernandez said. “Then he came in high and I told myself to look for a fastball right down the middle and I’d try to put a good swing on it.”

Joe Benson led off the 10th with a single. Steve Singleton sacrificed him to second and Benson took third on a wild pitch. All Fernandez needed was a long fly ball but he wound up with his second homer of the season.


“That’s what I was thinking — get a fastball up and put a good swing on it,” Fernandez said. “I didn’t want the ball to stay in the infield.”

Fernandez replaced starter Alexander Soto, whom Smith pulled for a pinch runner in the eighth with the go-ahead run on second base.

“We had worked (Fernandez) out today and asked (trainer Chad Jackson) in the seventh inning if he could play,” Smith said. “He had a good workout today and we took a chance.”

Chris Province (5-1) pitched two scoreless innings for the win.

The Rock Cats (28-65) had three hits and a walk against the Red Sox’s top pitching prospect, Casey Kelly, in the first inning but were unable to score due to two baserunning blunders.

Ben Revere reached on an infield hit and was caught stealing. Alexi Casilla singled to center and Kelly picked him off. Chris Parmelee walked and Erik Lis had another infield hit, but Benson popped out on the first pitch.


New Britain started the second with two hits and turned it into the game’s first run.

Singleton began with a double off the right-field wall and scooted to third on Soto’s single to left. With Singleton moving on contact, Mark Dolenc grounded to third for the RBI.

Portland (44-47) needed just one hit to score three runs against Mike McCardell in the second.

Chih-Hsien Chiang reached on a two-base error by Parmelee at first. McCardell walked Ryan Khoury and the runners moved up on a wild pitch.

Che-Hsuan Lin rifled a sinking liner to left that Dolenc failed to shoestring and it skirted past him for a two-run triple. Lin scored on Jeremy Hermida’s groundout.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.