MANCHESTER, N.H.- The New Hampshire Fisher Cats now find themselves in a deadlock for the Eastern League’s Eastern Division lead following a 3-1 loss to Hartford on Friday night.
Two Hartford runs in the first provided the difference, with the Yard Goats collecting four straight singles before New Hampshire finally concluded the half- inning.
New Hampshire hurler T.J. Zeuch allowed just two more hits and a walk over the rest of his five-inning performance, but the early run support was more than enough for Hartford’s Evan Grills.
Before leaving after the sixth, Grills allowed just two hits and a walk, striking out six Fisher Cats batters. New Hampshire finally broke their slump as Scott Griggs replaced Grills, with Harold Ramirez coming across the plate off a Patrick Cantwell sacrifice fly in the seventh.
Another pitching change shut New Hampshire down again and this time it would be for good. Two more Hartford singles and a wild pitch provided the Yard Goats with an insurance run in the half of the ninth while Matt Pierpoint escaped without harm, stranding two runners in scoring position in the bottom of the ninth to earn his 31st save of the year.
Zeuch fell to 9-5 while Grills is now 4-5 in Eastern League play following the win.
Harold Ramirez collected three of New Hampshire’s six hits, raising his league leading batting average to .319 while Forest Wall added another two hits on the night.
Brian Mundell led the way for Hartford with a 2-for-4 night.
New Hampshire’s loss and Trenton’s win in Reading leaves the two teams tied atop the division, putting Trenton’s magic number any combination of three wins or New Hampshire losses over the final three games of the season.
The Fisher Cats send out Tayler Saucedo (4-4, 5.40 ERA) on Saturday night against Hartford’s Frank Duncan (3-7, 5.51 ERA.)