TRENTON, N.J. — Right-handed pitcher Mike MacDonald became the first Maine native to play for the Portland Sea Dogs on Sunday but his debut was a short one as he lasted only two-thirds of inning after being pulled because of an injury when the Trenton Thunder’s Zoilo Almonte lined a ball off MacDonald’s left leg.
MacDonald gave up two runs, one earned, on three hits, but the Portland bullpen responded and shut out the Thunder the rest of the way en route to a 3-2 victory at Waterfront Park in a game between the Double-A affiliates of the Boston Red Sox (Sea Dogs) and New York Yankees (Thunder).
MacDonald, a 30-year-old Camden native and former University of Maine standout, was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 15th round of the 2004 first-year player draft. He has nine seasons of minor league baseball experience. He has pitched in the Blue Jays, Angels, and Giants organizations and has reached Triple-A. He has appeared in 220 games with a 58-59 record and a 4.52 ERA.
MacDonald was the first Maine native player to don the Sea Dogs uniform in the franchise’s 19 years in Portland. The only other Maine native to wear the Sea Dogs uniform was Sea Dogs hitting coach Kenny Joyce in 1996. Additionally, MacDonald was the third University of Maine Black Bear to play for the Sea Dogs, joining Pete Fisher (2005) and Rusty Tucker (2006).
On Sunday, Chris Balcom-Miller relieved MacDonald and gave the Sea Dogs five shutout innings. Balcom-Miller struck out two batters, walked three, and gave up two hits.
Aaron Kurcz entered the game in the sixth inning and took over where Balcom-Miller left off. Kurcz struck out five over 2⅓ innings. The Sea Dog all-star has struck out five Trenton batters on four separate occasions this season. Kurcz earned the win and is now 3-4 with a 3.45 ERA.
Brock Huntzinger capped the stellar bullpen effort. He earned his third save with a perfect ninth inning.
On the offensive side, Portland’s Jackie Bradley Jr. (.382) extended his hitting streak to nine games with an infield single in the top of the seventh inning.
After Trenton’s two first-inning runs, Portland answered with a run in the second and the third, tying the game at 2-2. Matt Spring homered in the second and the Sea Dogs tied the game in the third on an RBI groundout by Marquez Smith, scoring Jeremy Hazelbaker.
The Sea Dogs will conclude their three-game series against the Thunder at 12:05 p.m. Monday and then return home after the all-star break for an eight-game homestand, opening against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats at 7 p.m. Thursday.