Zeuch gives F-Cats second pitching masterpiece in three days

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TJ Zeuch (Fisher Cats promotional photo)

AKRON, OHIO – For the first eight weeks of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats’ 2018 season, Jordan Romano stood alongside Sean Reid-Foley atop the starting pitching rotation. But as he falls into a slump here in June, the rest of the Fisher Cats staff is picking up his slack.

TJ Zeuch came just short of his first career nine-inning complete game, allowing just two hits in New Hampshire’s 3-0 victory over the Akron Rubber Ducks on Thursday.

Zeuch (5-2) left after eight innings, a career best, sandwiching Romano’s poor performance on Wednesday with a comparably spectacular start from Jon Harris on Tuesday.

Like Harris, Zeuch left after 89 pitches, leaving the ninth to Jose Fernandez. There, the Rubber Ducks led off with two straight walks before Fernandez recovered and retired the next three straight batters, earning his second save of the year.

Akron starting pitcher Michael Peoples couldn’t match Zeuch, but he certainly came close, allowing just two hits over five innings of work. Peoples (1-2) left without an earned run, but a pair of errors leading off the fifth brought Harold Ramirez into scoring position, eventually coming home on Gunnar Heidt’s single two at-bats later in the inning.

The Fisher Cats added a second run in the eighth thanks to a Jonathan Davis sacrifice fly, bringing Connor Panas across the plate. Jon Berti quickly followed that with New Hampshire’s final run of the night, a single that scored Juan Kelly.

New Hampshire ended the night with just five hits, with a total of 10 over their two victories in Akron compared to 11 in their Wednesday loss to the Rubber Ducks.

The ‘Cats western swing now heads to Pennsylvania, where they face the Altoona Curve for a 7 p.m. Friday tilt. Josh DeGraaf (1-3, 5.30 ERA) takes the mound for New Hampshire against Altoona lefthander Cam Vieaux (1-0, 1.29 ERA).