MANCHESTER, NH – On Friday, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats won the third Eastern League Championship in their 15-year history, completing their sweep of the Akron Rubber Ducks with an 8-5 victory.
New Hampshire struck first thanks to a Patrick Cantwell double to left in the second, bringing Cavan Biggio across the plate. Cantwell came home later in the inning on a Joshua Palacios, but the score would not remain static for long.
Akron took back two runs in the top of the second, but a poor throw from Akron starting reliever Kieran Lovegrove that began a chain reaction that allowed New Hampshire to regain its two-run lead by the end of the third.
Lovegrove left after just four outs, but the Fisher Cats kept up the pressure, adding another two runs in the third as well as two more runs in the fourth.
Two straight Akron hits in the fifth led to the end of Jordan Romano’s day on the mound for New Hampshire, giving the Ducks another run. However, the combination of New Hampshire’s continual hits and stolen bases alongside four Akron errors gave the Fisher Cats plenty of breathing room.
Cavan Biggio added a solo shot to lead off the bottom of the fifth, and the New Hampshire bullpen kept Akron’s in check the rest of the way for the most part.
Only hits from Mark Mathias and Sam Haggerty in the seventh spoiled what would have been a perfect night for the bullpen, with Haggerty bringing in Mathias for Akron’s final run of the night. Matthias added another hit in the ninth, coming in for a consolation run with two outs.
Those two runs proved to be the only ones New Hampshire’s relievers gave up over the entire series, finishing with a combined seven hits over nine total innings of Fisher Cats’ relief.
At the plate, New Hampshire concluded the night with [nine] hits, three of which came from Jon Berti.
Daniel Salters, Sam Haggerty and Andrea Calica joined Mathias in adding a pair of hits for Akron.
Romano earned the win, allowing three runs in 4 1/3 innings of work, striking out five. The loss went to Akron starter Zach Plesac, leaving after the end of the second.
New Hampshire’s three-game sweep of the Rubber Ducks marks the first time they have been swept in 10 Eastern League postseason appearances.
An announced 6,541 fans were in attendance, the fifth most attended game of the year for the Fisher Cats. That total was larger both of the first two games of the series combined in Akron, and almost eclipsed all three games combined in the first round of the playoffs between New Hampshire and Trenton.
The win marked the first time New Hampshire clinched a pennant at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium, with the Fisher Cats clinching the 2004 title at Manchester’s historic Gill Stadium and the 2011 title at the Diamond in Richmond, Virginia.