PORTLAND, Maine — The Portland Sea Dogs used eight innings from Henry Owens and a four-run eighth to down the New Britain Rock Cats 6-1 in the series finale Sunday afternoon at Hadlock Field.
The win completes the three-game series sweep for Portland and ups the season series to 11-5 in favor of the Dogs.
For the third game in a row, the Sea Dogs took the lead in the first inning, thanks to Sean Coyle. Derrik Gibson and Shannon Wilkerson had a double and single respectively to begin the game against Taylor Rogers, and Coyle plated a run with a sacrifice fly to right field.
Owens was on the hill for Portland and the left-hander settled into an early groove. He retired the first nine men he faced, until Tony Thomas shot a triple to the wall in right-center to begin the fourth. Reynaldo Rodriguez followed two batters later with a double to left-center that tied the game at 1-1.
Rogers also settled in and made it a pitchers duel and tossed three scoreless after the first, keeping it tied heading to the fifth. He ran into trouble in the fifth and gave up back-to-back singles to Heiker Meneses and Gibson to begin the frame.
Shannon Wilkerson sacrificed the runners into scoring position with a bunt and Blake Swihart struck out to bring Coyle again to the plate for an RBI opportunity. The third baseman hit a high-chopper in front of the plate, which carried to the third baseman, but Coyle beat it for an infield single and Meneses scored to make it 2-1 Portland.
Owens (12-3) went right back to form after he allowed the run in the fourth and delivered a perfect fifth and struck out the side in the sixth. He gave up a leadoff walk in the seventh, but struck out the final two hitters in the inning, strikeouts nine and 10.
The lefty completed the eighth, and his final inning, with a strikeout to the former Sea Dog Thomas. Owens tied career-highs with the eight innings pitched and 11 strikeouts. His final line went eight innings, allowed the run on three hits; he walked one and struck out the 11. He becomes the first pitcher to 12 wins in minor league baseball.
Swihart and Coyle struck out against reliever Dan Turpen in the eighth, but Michael Almanzar worked a two-out walk to spark a four-run rally. Dave Chester followed with a single and Keury De La Cruz hit a single to plate another run and made it 3-1.
Turpen hit Peter Hissey to load the bases for Meneses and the second baseman connected. He stroked a double down the line in left, cleared the bases, and made it 6-1 Sea Dogs.
The win sends Portland’s record (59-29) 30-games above .500 for the first time since 1995.