MANCHESTER, NH – Poor weather in Manchester pushed Opening Day off Thursday and Friday, but the New Hampshire Fisher Cats might have wished for a slightly longer delay.
On Saturday, they dropped a pair of seven-inning games to the newly rechristened Binghamton Rumble Ponies at a bitterly cold Northeast Delta Dental Stadium to begin their 2017 season.
Binghamton got on the board early in Game 1, chasing vaunted 21-year-old righty Sean Reid-Foley after only 1 2/3 innings of work, eventually leading to a 2-0 Rumble Pony victory.
Foley’s considered one of the top pitching prospects in the Toronto Blue Jays organization, ranked 75th among all minor leaguers according to Baseball America, and he struck out the first two batters he faced on just six pitches, but that’s where things went awry.
An errant throw from third baseman Emilio Guerrero dashed hopes of a quick first inning for Reid-Foley. He escaped unscathed, but loaded the bases to begin the second, setting the stage for what could be interpreted as either an exceptional sacrifice bunt from Binghamton’s Patrick Biondi, or a moment of poor fielding from Fisher Cats first baseman Ryan McBroom.
Biondi’s bunt brought the first Rumble Pony run against the plate, and that would be all for Reid-Foley.
That would ultimately be all that Binghamton needed as well, adding the second run with less fanfare in the fourth.
Rumble Pony pitchers Tyler Pill and Cory Burns scattered eight hits, but the Fisher Cats didn’t help themselves on the base paths.
Roemon Field’s third-inning single to short left was negated when he tried to stretch it into a double, and Emilio Guerrero reached first on an error in the seventh only to be caught at second in another failed extra base attempt.
New Hampshire lost the second game 8-2, with both teams combining for only three hits during the first four innings.
However, Binghamton exploded in the fifth, chasing New Hampshire starting pitcher Conner Greene from the contest. Reliever Tim Mayza allowed six consecutive hits and four earned runs before recording his first and only out, requiring righthander Dusty Isaacs to retire the side in what was his Double-A debut.
Issacs, who moonlighted as an Uber driver last season during his tenure with the Single-A Lansing Lugnuts, escaped a bases loaded jam in the sixth and recorded two outs in the seventh. Before conceding RBI single to Binghamton designated hitter Matt Oberste.
Oberste’s contribution gave the Rumble Ponies their final run of the evening, but it was enough require Isaac’s fellow Double-A debutant hurler Carlos Ramirez for the final Binghamton out.
New Hampshire prevented the shutout thanks to a two-run homer from Raffy Lopez in the bottom half of the fifth, but the Fisher Cats would leave the bases loaded in the sixth in what would be their last true attempt at a comeback.
There were some rays of hope for the Fisher Cats on the day outside of the Lopez home run. Richard Urena went 3-for-6 combined in the two-game set and Anthony Alford recorded a 2-for-5 day at the plate overall.
The game against Binghamton that had been scheduled for Thursday will be made up as part of another May 5 doubleheader. Thursday and Friday’s postponements mark the first time New Hampshire’s season began with two weather postponements since 2007, when snow cancelled a pair of games to the New Britain Rock Cats.
Following the conclusion of New Hampshire’s opening series with Binghamton on Sunday, the Fisher Cats will welcome the Reading Fightin’ Phils for a three-game set before heading off on the road.
Jon Harris and Shane Dawson will start for New Hampshire in the first two games of the Reading series, both scheduled with 6:35 p.m. starts. Reid-Foley will get another chance on the mound to complete the series against the Phils on Manchester Schools Day, with the first pitch scheduled for 10:35 a.m. Click here for tickets.
New Hampshire native Andrew Sylvia began covering the Fisher Cats in 2010 and 2011 and has reported on a wide variety of other sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader, the Nashua Telegraph and Patch.com in addition to thousands of other non-sports articles for over two-dozen outlets throughout New England and beyond.
He also has a Australian Rules Football fantasy team and he thinks they’re finally going to win it all this year, if only because he’s an optimistic kind of guy.