(Manchester, NH)---The New Hampshire Fisher Cats clinched the playoffs for the first time since the championship year of 2004 despite a 5-2 loss to the Portland Sea Dogs in front of a season-high crowd of 8,746 at Merchantsauto.com Stadium. Saturday marked the third highest attendance in franchise history behind the John Smoltz rehab assignment on May 29, 2009 (8,903) and the Eastern League All-Star Game on July 16, 2008 (8,762).
With the magic number down to one,
Starting pitchers Kyle Drabek and Blake Maxwell were part of an old-fashioned pitchers duel to start the game. Drabek, fresh from being named Eastern League Pitcher of the Year, left after five innings with the score notched at zero. The right-handed hurler, who was dealt the no-decision, only allowed one hit while striking out four and walking four. Three double plays helped his cause especially in the top of the fifth when he walked the first two batters of the frame.
The Sea Dogs (63-69) made some noise against the
bullpen, bringing eight runners to bat in the top of the sixth and
runs on four hits. Ray Chang and Luis
Exposito did the damage with back-to-back two-run singles to give
Maxwell went unscathed until the bottom of the sixth when Adam Calderone's single set up Cooper's home run on a 0-0 count. The two-run blast over the right-center field fence brought the score to 4-2. Cooper has now joined teammates Eric Thames (25) and Shawn Bowman (22) with over 20 home runs, and it is the first time in franchise history three members of the Fisher Cats have reached that plateau in the same season.
Maxwell (6-0), who recorded the victory, called it
after 5.2 innings, allowing the two runs on five hits while striking
and walking one. Daniel Turpen received
his first save of the season with a scoreless ninth.
David Purcey (0-1), who is making a rehab stint for the Toronto Blue Jays, was given the loss for the Fisher Cats, allowing three runs on two hits while striking out one and walking one.
homestand continues on Sunday with the final game of the season against
Portland Sea Dogs at Merchantsauto.com Stadium.
It is Fisher Cats
Giveaway at the ballpark Sunday. Be one
of the first 1,000 kids to enter the stadium and receive a FREE Fisher
Lunch Bag courtesy of Terminix. Kids Run
the Bases, presented by NH Bureau of Liquor
Enforcement, follows the game.