Fisher Cats Take Victory in Series Opener with Long Rain Delay
READING, PA. – The New Hampshire Fisher Cats picked up an early lead and held on for a rain-soaked 4-1 victory over the Reading Fightin’ Phils Monday night at FirstEnergy Stadium in Reading.
The Fisher Cats (19-19) held the lead going into the top of the seventh inning when the downpour forced a stoppage after just two pitches, and did well enough once play resumed to secure the win. Reading (19-17) collected just one run and never really threatened the Fisher Cats’ advantage. The game featured an excellent pitching performance from Fisher Cats starter Casey Lawrence, an alum of Albright College just a stone’s throw away from the ballpark.
New Hampshire took the lead in the top of the first inning, jumping all over Reading starter Tom Windle (L, 0-3). The southpaw issued back-to-back walks to Jorge Flores and Matt Newman, and Kevin Nolan shot a single to left to load the bases with nobody out. K.C. Hobson lofted a sacrifice fly to right that scored Flores and moved Newman to third. After Nolan swiped second base, Pierce Rankin rapped a two-run double to left, scoring Newman and Nolan to make it a 3-0 lead for the Fisher Cats.
Reading got on the board in the bottom of the third against Lawrence (W, 3-4). KC Serna worked a lead-off walk and moved to third on a single by Brodie Greene. Brock Stassi bounced into a 4-6-3 double play, allowing Serna to score and trim the New Hampshire lead to 3-1.
The Fisher Cats answered with a run of their own in the top of the fourth. Rankin led off with a single to left, and moved to second when Andy Fermin dropped down a perfect sacrifice bunt. Christian Lopes drew a walk, and Shane Opitz delivered a single on a liner to right to plate Rankin and make it 4-1 in favor of the Fisher Cats. Heavy rains brought the game to a screeching halt in the top of the seventh, forcing a 67-minute rain delay. After the delay, the New Hampshire bullpen did the rest, locking down the victory for the visitors.
Lawrence earned the win, tossing 5.1 solid innings. He gave up a run on six hits and walked one while whiffing three. Scott Barnes retired both batters he faced before the rain delay ended his outing. Greg Burke threw two outstanding innings of shutout relief, allowing just one walk and whiffing one. Blake McFarland pitched the ninth for his fifth save, striking out one in a perfect inning.
The Fisher Cats will try to secure a series victory May 19 at 6:35 p.m. with righty Taylor Cole on the hill for New Hampshire against Reading righty Ben Lively. Radio coverage begins at 6:15 p.m. with Ben Gellman on the WGIR Fisher Cats Radio Network and at www.nhfishercats.com.
The Fisher Cats return home for a Memorial Day Weekend celebration starting Friday, May 22. The stand includes three Atlas Fireworks shows and a Memorial Day matinee. Tickets are available by visiting www.nhfishercats.com, visiting the stadium box office, or by calling (603) 641-2005.