F-Cats win off improved pitching and more Berti magic

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PORTLAND, Maine – Wednesday’s pitching in Portland? Not so good. Thursday? Much better….

The New Hampshire Fisher Cats return to the Granite State with a win, defeating the Portland Sea Dogs 4-2 on Thursday night.

New Hampshire took the lead during the opening frame, with Jon Berti’s leadoff double opening the way for a pair of runs before Portland finally retired the side.

Portland tied up the contest in the fourth, but left the bases loaded, ending what would be their final true opportunity of the evening.

The Fisher Cats would regain the lead for good in the seventh, as Bo Bichette brought Berti home for the second time of the night, with Bichette coming home later in the inning for good measure off a Harold Ramirez double.

Following a disappointing pitching performance on Wednesday, New Hampshire put together a good showing in their final contest in Portland this year, really only marred by the two runs in the fourth.

Those runs were enough to deny Hector Perez a win, as he left after the fifth with seven strikeouts against just four hits and a walk, but Josh DeGraaf stepped in and continued to frustrate Sea Dogs batters.

Now at 7-5 on the year after the win, DeGraaf struck out six of the 12 batters he faced, with Corey Copping striking out another two in the ninth for his second Eastern League save of the year.

The loss went to Harrison Cooney, getting his first Eastern League loss of the year after pitching the seventh and eighth for Portland.

At the plate, Luke Tendler and Chris Madera combined for four of Portland’s six hits on the evening while Berti, Bichette and Santiago Espinal each collected three hits for the Fisher Cats.

Berti was just a home run shy of collecting his second cycle this week as well.

The Fisher Cats return to Manchester for one last series of the regular season against the Hartford Yard Goats. With Trenton’s loss on Thursday, the Fisher Cats will need a combination of four wins or four Trenton losses to secure the regular season divisional title.

With Akron’s loss earlier in the night, the Fisher Cats are now tied for the best record in the league, with any combination of five wins or Akron losses securing the league’s best regular season record for the first time in franchise history.

The first game of the Hartford series pits New Hampshire’s T.J. Zeuch (9-4, 3.13 ERA) against Hartford’s Evan Grills (3-5, 4.20 ERA).