Opitz goes deep to spark Fisher Cats to 4-3 victory

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Cole Earns First Double-A Win with 5.1 Solid Innings

Cole got his first Double-A victory in the 4-3 win for the Fisher Cats.
Cole got his first Double-A victory in the 4-3 win for the Fisher Cats.

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. – The New Hampshire Fisher Cats held on late, turning a fantastic game-ending double play to down the Binghamton Mets 4-3 at NYSEG Stadium in Binghamton.

The Fisher Cats (17-17) allowed an error to begin the ninth inning but escaped without surrendering the tying run, breaking out of a four-game skid. The Mets (19-15) fell behind early and never drew even in the game despite lights-out work from their relief corps.

New Hampshire got things going in the top of the first inning against Binghamton starter Luis Cessa (L, 3-2). Jon Berti led off with a single and swiped second for his seventh stolen base of the season. After Berti moved to third on a ground-out by Dwight Smith, Jr., and Matt Newman struck out swinging, Kevin Nolan lined a single to right, scoring Berti and making it 1-0 Fisher Cats.

The visitors added to their lead in the top of the second inning. Jack Murphy drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Jorge Flores. After a groundout moved Murphy to third base, Shane Opitz blasted a homer to right field to make it 3-0 Fisher Cats. It was Opitz’s first homer since July 28, 2013, and his first at the Double-A level.

Binghamton was not to be counted out so quickly. In the bottom of the fifth, Xorge Carrillo worked a leadoff walk against Fisher Cats starter Taylor Cole (W, 1-3), and moved to third on a single by Gavin Cecchini. After Eudy Piña grounded into a fielder’s choice that retired Cecchini, Jared King flicked a single through the right side to score Carrillo and cut the New Hampshire advantage to 3-1.

The Mets chipped away a little more in the bottom of the sixth, as Jayce Boyd drilled a leadoff double to right, and Josh Rodriguez drew a walk. After Cole fanned David Cooper for the first out, manager Bobby Meacham went to the bullpen, bringing in Danny Barnes. Carrillo had a rude welcome to the game for Barnes, blooping a single into left-center field to score Boyd and make it a 3-2 game. However, Barnes navigated the rest of the inning without incident, preserving the lead.

New Hampshire added a critical insurance run in the top of the seventh, as Andy Fermin led off with a double down the right-field line, and Opitz drew a walk. Cessa fired a slider that got away for a wild pitch, advancing the runners to second and third. Berti was able to lift a sacrifice fly to deep right field, scoring Fermin to run the Fisher Cats’ lead to 4-2.

Binghamton kept charging in the bottom of the eighth against new reliever Greg Burke, as Rodriguez led off with a single and stole second. Burke walked Cooper, and Carrillo dropped a perfect sacrifice bunt to advance the runners to second and third with just one out. Rodriguez scored on a 6-3 groundout by Cecchini, but Burke was able to fan Piña to end the frame.

In the ninth, the Fisher Cats danced with danger, as Flores muffed a leadoff grounder to allow King to reach first safely against new reliever Luis Perez. Nimmo flew out to new center fielder Ian Parmley, but Rivera lined a single to left-center field to put runners at first and second with just one out. Boyd came to the plate with a chance to make a big impact, and he lashed a hard ground ball into the 5-6 hole on the left side. However, Nolan made a terrific diving stop, fired to Berti at second, and the pivot turned the 5-4-3 game-ending double play to secure the victory.

Cole earned his first Double-A victory with 5.1 innings of work, surrendering two runs on six hits and two walks while fanning three. Barnes allowed an inherited run to score but went 1.2 innings without other trouble, giving up two hits and whiffing three. Burke allowed a run on one hit and one walk while striking out one in one frame of action. Perez gave up just one hit in a scoreless inning of relief to earn his first save

The Fisher Cats look to make it two in a row on Friday night at 7:05 p.m, with right-hander Joel Piñeiro taking the ball against the Mets’ Michael Fulmer.  Radio coverage begins at 6:45 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 four 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.


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About Carol Robidoux 5447 Articles
Journalist and editor of ManchesterInkLink.com, a hyperlocal news and information site for Manchester, NH.