Two days and a lot of groundskeeping later, the Portland Sea Dogs opened their 2024 season at Hadlock Field on Sunday afternoon with a 1-0 loss to the Hartford Yard Goats.

Originally set for a 1 p.m. start, Sunday’s game was pushed back to 3:30 p.m. as crews worked to remove snow from the field. Thursday’s nor’easter forced postponement of games on Friday and Saturday.

“Kudos to Cookie (head groundskeeper Jason Cooke). I didn’t think there was a chance. Obviously, they showed their experience and their knowledge. It’s unreal,” Sea Dogs Manager Chad Epperson said of the work Cooke and his grounds crew did to prepare the field.

The tarp was removed from Hadlock’s infield at approximately 11:30 a.m. Sunday. Shortly after noon, the grounds crew worked to shovel what snow remained in right field. By the first pitch at 3:35, no sign of the winter storm that hit Portland on Thursday was visible on the field.

“The grounds crew did a great job. It’s disappointing how it turned out, but the best part about baseball is you play every day. We’re going to go out and look to win the next one,” Portland catcher Kyle Teel said.

While the announced attendance was 6,074, the crowd was noticeably smaller. Those who came to Hadlock for the late afternoon game were bundled up and prepared for a game played with temperatures in the mid-to-high 40s.


“We were just on standby, waiting to see if they played,” said Jackie Wride of Cumberland, who attended the game with her family to celebrate her son Brody’s 12th birthday. “We were going to come no matter what.”

Mark Beckim of Waterville said he has attended every Sea Dogs home opener since 2013, but he came close to missing Sunday’s game. With the game time a question until early afternoon, Beckim debated going to indoor batting practice with his men’s league team instead of making the drive to Portland.

“I had my mind made up going to my practice. But once they confirmed a start time, I canceled my practice to attend my 11th consecutive Sea Dogs home opener,” Beckim said. “I’m a man of tradition, and I couldn’t break the streak, even if it was a last-minute decision.”

The game’s only run came in the top of the third inning. Hartford’s Ryan Ritter walked, swiped second and third base, and scored on Bladimir Restituyo’s high chopper to third base.

Portland starting pitcher Angel Bastardo went five innings, allowing one hit and two walks while striking out three. Theo Denlinger and Christopher Troye each pitched two innings of scoreless relief for the Sea Dogs.

“Our pitching staff really showed what they can do and what they can bring. That was really impressive to see from all the pitchers,” Teel said. “They were all throwing hard and they were all throwing strikes, and that combination really does damage to the other team.”


Led by left-handed starter Carson Palmquist, Hartford pitchers kept the Sea Dogs off balance throughout the game, striking out 15. Palmquist struck out eight in five innings, including six of the last seven hitters he faced. Seth Halvorsen, Juan Mejia and Jaden Hill completed the shutout.

“Palmquist, you’ve got to tip your hat to him. We knew there was some deception, there was some funk, especially against left-handed hitters. He’s got that sinker, and he was able to use his slider and his cutter to the lefties,” Epperson said. “You kind of see the spin, but the cutter and slider are so different in (velocity), and it kind of gets you out front and it makes the fastball look even harder than what he’s throwing. He’s throwing 93, and it makes it look like it’s honestly 96. Then they bring in their relievers, and those guys are 96, 97.”

The best chances for the Sea Dogs came in the first and ninth innings. In the first, Roman Anthony led off with a single and Marcelo Mayer doubled to left. After Teel popped out, Mayer was doubled off second base on Blaze Jordan’s sinking line drive caught by Restituyo in right field.

Portland got just one more hit, an Anthony single in the sixth.

“It was a pitching duel, and overall as hitters, we need to do a better job,” Teel said.

Following Anthony’s hit in the ninth, Mayer reached on an error and Jordan was hit by a pitch, but Hill struck out Nick Yorke to end the game.

“These guys, it’s been over a week since they played, and I know they were excited to get going,” Epperson said. “Probably a little too amped up at times, but that’s a part of Opening Day. I’m so glad we got it in, to get this one under our belt and not sit around here for four days, then go to Reading.”

The Sea Dogs play this week in Reading, Pennsylvania, before coming back home to Hadlock for a six-game series with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, starting April 16.

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