NEW BRITAIN, Connecticut — The Portland Sea Dogs needed extra innings, but took down the New Britain Rock Cats 8-5 in the 11th thanks to an unlikely hero in Danny Bethea Sunday at New Britain Stadium.
Leading 5-4 in the eighth, the Rock Cats (52-54) trotted Cole Johnson out to the mound in hopes of collecting a two inning save.The righty retired the side in order in the eighth, but faltered in the ninth.
Portland’s Keury De La Cruz stepped in to lead off the final inning and crushed a 1-1 pitch from Johnson over the wall in right field for a game-tying home run.
Pete Ruiz had worked three scoreless innings after Portland’s Luis Diaz worked the first five innings, but it was Dayan Diaz who tossed a scoreless ninth and sent the game to extra innings.
Diaz (1-0) and New Britain’s Matthew Summers pitched a scoreless 10th and the game remained tied in the 11th.
Ryan O’Rouke took over for Summers and struggled out of the gate. Michael Almanzar drove a single to left and with one out Jonathan Roof doubled to right. Mike Brenly was intentionally walked, which loaded the bases for Bethea.
The Portland designated hitter had picked up his first Double-A hit, earlier in the game, and faced O’Rourke (1-2). Bethea smoked a 3-1 pitch to left field for a double that plated both Almanzar and Roof, giving Portland the 7-5 lead.
Heiker Meneses capped off the scoring in the inning with a sacrifice fly to left, on which Brenly scored, and the Sea Dogs (68-40) had a three-run 8-5 lead heading to the bottom of the inning.
Noe Ramirez took over for Diaz for the final inning and became the fourth pitcher used by Billy McMillon on the evening.
The tall righthander gave up a one-out single to Jorge Polanco and Sean Coyle allowed Tony Thomas to reach on an error, putting the tying run at the plate in Eddie Rosario. The center fielder hit a sharp ground ball up that middle, which Ramirez stabbed and fired to second, starting the game-ending 1-6-3 double play. He earned his 12th save in as many chances with the scoreless inning.