Baseball fans returned to Hadlock Field on Tuesday night without needing to wear masks, sit in socially-distanced pods or order ice cream biscuits from their smart phones.

Their reward? A reminder that inside the friendly confines of Hadlock, no lead is safe.

The Sea Dogs erased a six-run deficit with help from three home runs and eventually prevailed 9-8 in the opener of a six-game series against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.

A crowd of 2,083 saw Joey Meneses strike the critical blow, a two-out, three-run blast in the seventh that gave Portland its first lead of the night, 8-7, and traveled an estimated 406 feet. Jose Adames closed out the game by striking out the side for his league-leading ninth save.

Earlier in the evening, recent arrival Tate Matheny hit a two-run homer to dead center to bring the Dogs within four and Tanner Nishioka hit a solo home run that sparked a two-run fifth.

“Fun game, fun atmosphere,” said Sea Dogs Manager Corey Wimberly. “We never gave up and just kept chipping away.”

Matheny, a Hadlock regular in 2019, had played sparingly at Triple-A Worcester. He also figured in the winning run Tuesday night, opening the home eighth with a single and scoring on Ryan Fitzgerald’s double to the gap in right-center.

New Hampshire knocked out Sea Dogs starter A.J. Politi in the fourth inning and jumped to a 7-1 lead. Samad Taylor led the Fisher Cats’ attack by reaching base five times and scoring four runs. He homered, walked three times and opened the eighth with a double that led to New Hampshire tying the score at 8.

Grant Williams, who saw his season-long strikeout-avoidance streak end during last week’s visit to Harrisburg, had three of Portland’s 14 hits. Both Williams and Triston Casas – returning from a loan to Team USA for the Olympic qualifying tournament in Florida – delivered opposite-field singles with two strikes to set the table for Meneses in the seventh.

Five relievers followed Politi. Seth Blair pitched two perfect innings, with three strikeouts. Joan Martinez escaped a one-out, bases-loaded jam.

“That was huge,” Wimberly said of Martinez stranding three runners with a strikeout and a comebacker. “After we scored two runs, to come up with a shutdown inning after having a lot of traffic on the bases, it was definitely a momentum swing for us.”

Tyler Olson (2-0) retired one batter to earn the decision and hand the lead to Adames, whose fastball topped out at 99 mph.

“He’s been pretty big for us at the back end of that bullpen,” Wimberly said. “I’m proud of where he is right now.”

NOTES: Casas went 2 for 3 Tuesday night to raise his average to .343. Both hits came after he choked up on the bat in two-strike counts. For Team USA, he batted .400 (6 for 15) with two doubles and three RBI to help earn a spot in the six-team Tokyo Games when baseball returns to the Olympics this summer for the first time since 2008. The United States wrapped up a 4-0 record Saturday in Florida against Venezuela in the Americas Qualifier. Sea Dogs left-hander Enmanuel De Jesus pitched in two games for Venezuela, which finished third and joins runner-up Dominican Republic in Mexico later this month to compete for the final Olympic berth. … Wednesday night’s scheduled starter for New Hampshire, Simeon Woods Richardson, was also a member of Team USA but did not see action. … The Sea Dogs are partnering with Northern Light Mercy Hospital to offer free COVID-19 vaccinations at Thursday night’s game. Fans not yet vaccinated can get a shot between 5-7 p.m. in the Portland Room at Hadlock and be rewarded with a free ticket to a future game along with a voucher for a hot dog, bottle of water and Sea Dogs biscuit.

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