New Hampshire outdone by Binelas grand slam

Photo/New Hampshire Fisher Cats

PORTLAND, ME — The New Hampshire Fisher Cats (2-6, 32-44) were defeated, 5-2, by the Portland Sea Dogs (6-2, 42-35) at Hadlock Field Wednesday night. The Fisher Cats led 5-3 heading into the bottom of the seventh, but Sea Dogs first baseman Alex Binelas hit a grand slam to put Portland in front for good.

New Hampshire dropped all three contests at Hadlock Field but returns to the friendly confines of Delta Dental Stadium on Thursday, July 4 to start the back half of the six-game series. 

Fisher Cats starter C.J. Van Eyk pitched five innings and allowed three runs on six hits. The right-hander struck out four and walked one. Hunter Gregory (L, 4-3) allowed three baserunners in the bottom of the seventh before departing prior to the grand slam.

Sea Dogs starter Juan Daniel Encarnacion allowed four runs in four innings pitched. Righty Alex Hoppe (W, 2-3) got the victory after puting a bow on the top of the seventh. 

After Portland scored a run in the bottom of the first, the Cats provided Van Eyk early run support. Center fielder Devonte Brown led off the top of the second inning with a single. Second baseman Michael Turconi then walked. With one out, left fielder Gabriel Martinez singled through the right side of the infield, which scored Brown. The next batter, catcher Kekai Rios, pounded a single which scored Turconi. Martinez advanced from first-to-third on the Rios knock and came home to score on a groundout from first baseman Glenn Santiago. After the second inning, New Hampshire led, 3-1. 

The Fisher Cats tacked on another tally in the top of the third. Third baseman Alex De Jesus tripled, his first of the year, then Brown drove him in with a sacrifice fly. Portland responded in identical fashion: a Sea Dogs sacrifice fly brought right fielder Tyler McDonough in after his triple against Van Eyk. After three frames, the Cats held a 4-2 advantage.

The Sea Dogs cut into the lead in the bottom of the fourth. Binelas walked, then left fielder Karson Simas doubled to make it 4-3.  

Portland went to the bullpen after the fourth, calling on lefty Brendan Cellucci to replace starter Juan Daniel Encarnacion. Gregory took the reins from Van Eyk in the bottom of the sixth and faced the minimum in the frame. 

Cellucci pitched clean innings until the top of the seventh, when New Hampshire’s patience paid off. The Fisher Cats walked four times in the inning; right fielder Garrett Spain’s free pass brought home shortstop Josh Kasevich to double the Cats’ margin to 5-3. Cellucci was pulled from the contest after the southpaw walked a career-high six batters. 

Gregory ran into trouble with two outs in the bottom of the seventh. Portland’s Blaze Jordan singled, and Eddinson Paulino and Philip Sikes both walked. Gregory was replaced by Ryan Boyer, whose second pitch was sent over the right-center field fence by Binelas. The grand slam is the second the Fisher Cats have allowed on the nine-game road trip. After the blast, Portland seized the lead, 7-5. The Sea Dogs tacked on another run in the eighth, as McDonough doubled and Kristian Campbell plated him with a single.