PORTLAND, MAINE — The Portland Sea Dogs scored early and staved off a late comeback to down the New Britain Rock Cats 2-1 Thursday afternoon at Hadlock Field. The win is Portland’s only in the series and improves its home record to 19-8.
After falling in the two games Wednesday, the Sea Dogs (35-18) came out fast and furious against Tyler Duffey and the Rock Cats (22-29). The righty dismissed Mookie Betts to begin the game, but was tagged for two runs on four straight hits.
Deven Marrero singled and stole second before Stefan Welch doubled off the centerfield wall and plated him, giving Portland the 1-0 lead. Blake Swihart singled to put runners at the corners for Sean Coyle who doubled the lead with a double to left and gave the ‘Dogs the 2-0 lead.
From there it was all about the arms. Henry Owens climbed the hill for the ‘Dogs and was in complete control. After two base runners reached against the lefty in the first, Owens went on to retire the next 15 of 16 batters in a row.
His toughest inning was his final inning, the seventh. The big lefty gave up a single to Daniel Ortiz and walked Kennys Vargas to begin the inning, but battled back to strikeout Reynaldo Rodriguez, induced a flyout to right by Nate Hanson, and struck out Mike Kvasnicka for the final out in his outing.
Owens (6-3) went the seven scoreless and allowed five men on base, three hits and two walks, and struck out five. Four of his five strikeouts came in the final three innings of his performance.
Duffey (1-1) would also settle in after the first and went on to retire the final 17 of 19 Sea Dogs hitters he faced. Only singles by Heiker Meneses and Bo Greenwell in the fourth and sixth respectively broke up the stretch for the righty. Jim Fuller pitched a scoreless seventh and Adrian Salcedo a scoreless eighth, holding the game at 2-0 and giving the offense a chance to come back in the ninth.
Noe Ramirez took the hill for the eighth and delivered it in perfect fashion, before he ran into trouble in the ninth. Ortiz doubled with one out and scored on Vargas’ single to left, which cut the lead in half at 2-1. A.J. Pettersen was inserted as a pinch-runner for Vargas in front of Rodriguez who hit a double down the left field line.
On the hit, Pettersen, the lead runner, was waved home by Jeff Smith, but tripped down the third baseline, and retired on a throw from the catcher back to third for the second out of the inning. Rodriguez had rounded second, and tripped trying to get back to the bag, but was out at second on the throw from Gibson to Meneses. The game-ending double play was scored 7-6-2-5-4. With the final two outs, Ramirez earned his fifth Double-A save in as many chances.
The Sea Dogs hit the highway and will open up a four-game, three-day series against the Trenton Thunder Friday at 7:05 p.m. from Arm & Hammer Park.
Portland is slated to send LHP Brian Johnson (3-1, 1.84) to the mound against Trenton’s RHP Bryan Mitchell (1-3, 4.23). Radio coverage begins at 6:45 p.m. on the WPEI U.S. Cellular Sea Dogs Radio Network and www.seadogs.com. Coverage begins at 6:55 p.m. on MiLB.tv.