The Sea Dogs opened their second homestand of the season Tuesday night with a thud.

Left-hander Enmanuel De Jesus struggled with his control, surrendered five runs and didn’t make it out of the first inning. The visiting Hartford Yard Goats went on to an 8-5 victory before a socially-distanced crowd of 1,364 at Hadlock Field.

Still, Double-A is all about development. In that regard, the man who relieved De Jesus shined brightly.

Rio Gomez, a 26-year-old left-hander, made his Hadlock debut after being promoted from Class A Greenville last Wednesday. A 36th-round draft pick, Gomez was cut from his high school team as a senior and walked on at a community college before finding his niche at the University of Arizona.

On Tuesday night, he induced a pop-up to extricate the Sea Dogs from that first-inning mess, pitched around two walks in his next inning and then faced another predicament in the third. An opposite-field single and a soft gapper that squirted through a short-hop attempt by right fielder Johan Mieses put two runners in scoring position with none out.

Gomez stranded them both.

A grounder to third forced both runners to hold. Gomez struck out a righty on a 78 mph curveball. He then covered the base on a grounder to first, taking the throw from Jhonny Pereda and tapping the bag with his foot for the final out.

The son of former ESPN reporter Pedro Gomez, who died unexpectedly in February at the age of 58, Rio Gomez pitched a perfect fourth and departed with one out in the fifth. In 3 2/3 innings, he walked three, whiffed three, allowed three hits and kept the game from turning into a blowout. His fastball topped out at 91 and he threw strikes on 40 of his 65 pitches.

“I think he did an outstanding job,” said Sea Dogs Manager Corey Wimberly, who had Gomez in Salem in 2019. “Huge performance from him.”

The reliever who followed Gomez, Jake Thompson, didn’t allow a hit in his 2 2/3 innings of work, striking out four and walking two. He, too, earned a promotion from Greenville a day after Gomez.

“Both of those guys really picked us up, with the starter getting knocked out in the first inning,” Wimberly said. “For those guys to give us length was really important for the rest of this (six-game) series so we’re not getting too deep in the bullpen in Game 1.”

There were other bright spots Tuesday night for the Sea Dogs (11-8), who remain in second place in the division. They outhit Hartford 12-11. Mieses belted his eighth home run, tops in the Northeast League. Ryan Fitzgerald had three hits, two of them doubles.

Outfield prospect Jeisson Rosario went 2 for 4 with two strikeouts and a walk, raising his batting average to .254. Tanner Nishioka and Roldani Baldwin each had two hits.

“I liked the way our offense competed,” Wimberly said. “I never felt like we were out of that game.”

The victory ended a six-game skid for the Yard Goats (6-13), who had been swept at home by Somerset after winning 4 of 6 against the visiting Sea Dogs. Sean Bouchard’s three-run homer in the first inning was the biggest blow. Max George and Manny Melendez hit back-to-back homers in the eighth after the Sea Dogs had come within striking distance at 6-3.

NOTES: The Sea Dogs will be without first baseman Triston Casas for the homestand. Boston’s top minor-league prospect is in Florida playing for Team USA in an Olympic qualifying event that includes teams from seven other countries.

Also in uniform for Team USA is former Sea Dogs outfielder Jarren Duran (currently with Triple-A Worcester) and former Sea Dogs manager Darren Fenster, who will coach third base for manager Mike Scioscia. Team USA leads off with Nicaragua May 31 followed by Dominican Republic (June 1) and Puerto Rico (June 2).

Israel, Japan, Korea and Mexico already have qualified for the Tokyo Games.


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