Fisher Cats Drop Series Finale to Fightin Phils

Image/NH Fisher Cats

MANCHESTER, NH — The New Hampshire Fisher Cats (30-39) lost to the Reading Fightin Phils (31-38) at Delta Dental Stadium Sunday. The defeat marked the end of an 11-game homestand for New Hampshire. Gameday No. 69 brings the Cats to the halfway point of the 2024 Eastern League season.

New Hampshire starter Michael Dominguez (L, 2-3) tossed 4 2/3 innings, and gave up five runs on six hits. Dominguez’s first four outs were all strikeouts. Adrian Hernandez, Anders Tolhurst and Justin Kelly combined for 4 1/3 scoreless frames of relief. Hernandez struck out the side for the second time in the series after doing so in Friday’s top of the seventh.

Reading struck first, four batters into the game. Leadoff batter Robert Moore walked, advanced to second on a balk, then first baseman Carson Taylor singled to score Moore and put the R-Phils in front, 1-0.

The Fightin Phils scored two more in the top of the third on two hit batters, a Taylor single and a fielder’s choice ground ball from former Fisher Cat Trevor Schwecke. Heading into the bottom of the third, Reading led, 3-0.

The Fisher Cats offense awoke in the bottom of the third against Reading starter Noah Skirrow. Back-to-back doubles from Miguel Hiraldo and Zach Britton started the frame; Britton brought Hiraldo home for the Cats’ first run. With one out, Ryan McCarty was hit by a pitch. Shortstop Josh Kasevich hit a ground ball back to the mound and Reading starter Noah Skirrow threw the ball into center field, which allowed Britton to score. Designated hitter Alex De Jesus, the next batter, tapped a slow roller up the first base line, which Skirrow threw to the left of first base. McCarty scored from second on Skirrow’s second throwing error. After three innings, the contest was knotted at 3 runs apiece.

Carlos De La Cruz put Reading in front in the top of the fifth. The center fielder drove a solo home run over the right field fence. The Fightin Phils tacked on another run three batters later, as Schwecke drove in Taylor with an RBI double. Hernandez replaced Dominguez and wrapped up the frame with a 5-3 Reading advantage.

Trailing by two, New Hampshire had the tying run on base in the ninth. Left fielder Gabby Martinez and Britton bopped singles, but the Cats stranded two runners to conclude the contest.

The conclusion of the Reading series marks the end of the first half of the 2024 Eastern League season. The Hartford Yard Goats (37-30) won the Northeast division first half title, and the Erie Seawolves won the Southwest division’s first half crown; both have clinched playoff spots.

After 69 scheduled games, Kasevich leads the Eastern League with 79 hits. Southpaw reliever Jimmy Burnette is tied for the league lead with 24 appearances. Left starter Trenton Wallace is tied for first in batting average against (.197), and both Wallace and fellow LHP Adam Macko are top five in the Eastern League in strikeouts. Both C.J. Van Eyk (May 6-12) and Michael Dominguez (May 27-June 2) won Eastern League pitcher of the Week honors.

Records reset for the second half of the season, which begins on Tuesday, June 25. New Hampshire travels to Hartford to face the Yard Goats at Dunkin’ Park. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PM EDT Tuesday. Both teams’ starting pitchers have yet to be announced.

After nine games on the road to start the second half, the Fisher Cats return to Delta Dental Stadium for three games Independence Day weekend, July 4-6, against the Portland Sea Dogs, Double-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. Atlas Fireworks follow the conclusion of each contest.