A doubleheader split Tuesday at Hadlock Field showed what the Portland Sea Dogs are capable of at the plate and on the mound, especially with a healthy CJ Liu back in the starting rotation.

After dropping Game 1 to the Hartford Yard Goats 8-5, Liu led a strong pitching effort in Game 2, which Portland won, 5-1.

Liu, who threw a 7-inning no-hitter last season at Akron, was dominant in his second start since coming off the injured list. Liu went three innings, striking out eight of the 11 hitters he faced, allowing one hit and one walk. Thirty-four of Liu’s 53 pitches were strikes, and he was able to work ahead of Hartford hitters throughout his night, reaching 97 miles per hour with his fastball.

“His split finger (fastball), the thing’s nasty right now,” Portland Manager Chad Epperson said of Liu. “He’s confident and attacking the strike zone right now.”

Robert Kwiatkowsi pitched three scoreless innings in relief  for the win. Caleb Bolden made his Double-A debut for the Sea Dogs, allowing one run in the top of the seventh.

Portland scored three runs in the bottom of the second inning on one hit to take control of Game 2. Matthew Lugo reached on an error, stole second base, advanced to third on Eddinson Paulino’s groundout to second and scored when Mickey Gasper reached on a fielder’s choice. Gasper scored on Matt Donlan’s sacrifice fly to center, and Phillip Sikes came home on a wild pitch for a 3-0 lead.

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The Sea Dogs added two more runs in the fifth inning on back-to-back home runs from Marcelo Mayer and Nick Decker.

Hartford scored three runs in the top of the seventh inning to take the first game after the Sea Dogs scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth to tie it. Braiden Ward led off the seventh with a double to right field and scored on Sterlin Thompson’s one-out single. After a walk to Warming Bernabel, Yanquiel Fernandez singled to score Thompson. Bernabel scored on Cody Scroggins’ wild pitch for the 8-5 lead.

The Yard Goats took an early 3-0 lead on Braxton Fulford’s three-run home run in the first. A two-run shot from Adael Amador in the top of the fourth pushed the lead to 5-0.

Hartford starter Jarrod Cande was perfect into the fifth inning before the Sea Dogs finally got to him. After Cande retired the first 13 hitters, Paulino broke up the perfect game and no-hitter with a single to right field. Lugo, Portland’s next hitter, hit his team-leading ninth home run to cut Hartford’s lead to 5-2.

The Sea Dogs tied the game in the bottom of the sixth inning. Paulino’s two-run single scored Mayer and Kyle Teel to make it 5-4, then Paulino scored on  Alex Binelas’ hit.

“I think we’ve shown that pretty much all year. We’ve been behind several times and come back. I think the big thing is, when we get ahead like we were (in Game 2) tonight, we kind of sit on it,” Epperson said. “It was good to see the guys bounce back and it carried over into the second game.”


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