AKRON, Ohio – One more to go.
When the New Hampshire Fisher Cats return home on Friday, they can clinch their first Eastern League Championship in seven years thanks to a 6-1 victory over the Akron Rubber Ducks on Wednesday night.
Like the first game of the Eastern League Championship Series, Akron scored a run in the first and like yesterday’s Game One, New Hampshire’s starting pitching shut things down while the Fisher Cat bats had a chance to warm up.
But unlike Game One, where T.J. Zeuch’s start included a collection of narrow escapes from potential rallies, Game Two starter Jon Harris locked down the Rubber Ducks after Ernie Clement’s leadoff double. After that point, Harris retired the next 11 batters, with only a pair of back-to-back two out hits from Nellie Rodriguez and Andrew Calica providing any trouble.
Harris left with one out in the seventh and seven strikeouts under his belt, and by that point New Hampshire’s vaunted offense had negated Harris’ early mistake.
New Hampshire connected on four straight singles to begin the third, ending that inning with three runs in total, with poor Akron fielding allowing another run to score in the sixth.
The ejection of Harold Ramirez in the middle of the seventh from a disputed strike three call was the only dark cloud on what was otherwise a positive mood for the Fisher Cats in the late stages of the contest. New Hampshire added two more runs off three consecutive hits while New Hampshire’s bullpen allowed just one baserunner after the departure of Harris.
It wasn’t New Hampshire’s best offensive night this season, but it certainly was an effective night, forcing Akron to try nine separate pitchers in attempts to stymie the Fisher Cats’ bats.
Forest Wall, Gunnar Heidt, and Bo Bichette each had a pair of hits by the end of the evening for New Hampshire, with Jon Berti added a pair of RBI in the win. Andrew Calica took two of the five hits allowed off Harris, putting him at 4-for-7 so far in the series.
Harris was the winning pitcher while Kyle Dowdy was the loser. Dowdy left after 5 1/3 innings of work, giving up three earned runs off five hits and a pair of walks, striking out ten.
The Fisher Cats now have three chances to seal the pennant at home, although they hope to conclude the series on Friday. There, New Hampshire’s Jordan Romano takes on Zach Plesac, with first pitch scheduled for 6:35 p.m.