NEW BRITAIN, Conn. - The Portland Sea Dogs (9-4) improved to 5-1 against the New Britain Cats (4-9), sweeping Friday night's doubleheader 6-4 and 6-0 at New Britain Stadium. Portland clubbed out 22 hits in the twinbill, receiving a career-high 11 strikeouts by Mickey Pena in the nightcap.
GAME ONE RECAP
The Portland Sea Dogs didn't seem fazed by Mother Nature's doom, which produced three postponements in a row, and downed the New Britain Rock Cats 6-4, in game one of a doubleheader Friday night at New Britain Stadium. The win marked the second in a row for the 'Dogs and fourth in five games against the 'Cats.
Portland's bats came out swinging against New Britain's D.J. Baxendale and broke through for four runs in the third inning. Shannon Wilkerson walked and Mookie Betts followed with a single to left that kick started the rally. Two batters later, Travis Shaw brought home the pair of speedsters with a single to center, and Portland had the 2-0 lead.
Carlos Rivero was next to step into the batter's box and faced Baxendale (0-2) for the fourth time on the young season. The leftfielder took a hanging breaking ball over the wall in left for a two-run shot that doubled Portland's lead to 4-0. Rivero improved to 4-for-5 with four RBI against Baxendale as he collected three hits against him in the April 10th affair.
New Britain didn't wait long to respond against Keith Couch and plated a run of its own in the bottom half of the frame. With two down, Matt Koch singled and was backed up by a run scoring double by Corey Wimberly, which cut the deficit to 4-1.
Couch (3-0) danced his way out of trouble in the fourth and struck out back-to-back hitters looking, with two on, to end a threat and keep the lead at three. Shaw rewarded his starter with two more insurance runs on a two run homer crushed to center in the top of the fifth that made the lead 6-1.
New Britain continued to climb out of the hole and responded with three more of its own in the bottom of the fifth. Back-to-back hits, a single and double began the inning and with one out it was Mike Kvasnicka that drove home the pair with a double to center. Nate Hanson followed with a bloop single that brought home the third run of the inning and made it 6-4.
Couch gave up his first earned runs of the season, but finished five innings and allowed the four runs on eight hits; he did not walk a batter and struck out five.
Noe Ramirez took over for the starter and closed the game out with two scoreless innings and earned his first save of the season.
Baxendale went the first five for New Britain and gave up the six runs, all earned, on nine hits; he walked one and struck out two. Former big leaguer Matt Guerrier was the first out of the pen and silenced the Sea Dogs over the final two frames.
GAME TWO RECAP
Mickey Pena didn't earn the win in game two, but the lefty fanned a career-high 11 batters over 4.2 innings, as the Sea Dogs completed the doubleheader sweep with a 6-0 win over the Rock Cats. Portland pitchers combined for 16 strikeouts, the most since they had 17 last April 5th vs. Trenton.
Pena left due to pitch count, yielding only two hits, one walk, and induced 22 swings-and-misses. The Texas native threw 56 of 93 pitches for strikes - in just his sixth Double-A start.
Blake Swihart (2-for-4) put the icing on the cake, cracking his first Double-A homer, a three-run shot off Ryan O'Rourke during a four-run fifth. Stefan Welch knocked losing pitcher Taylor Rogers out of the game, delivering a one-out RBI single. Rogers (0-3) suffered his second loss in a week to Portland, giving up six hits and four runs over 4.1 IP.
Michael Olmsted (1-0) relieved Pena in the fifth inning and earned his first win of the season. Olmsted pitched 1.1 innings, giving one hit and a walk. The Rock Cats had only three hits in the contest.
Miguel Celestino fanned the side in the seventh inning, finishing off the 16-strikeout performance.
Portland jumped on Rogers in the third inning, scoring two runs off the Twins #19 Prospect. Derrik Gibson led off the frame with a single and scored on Peter Hissey's (2-for-3) double. With one out, Shannon Wilkerson nailed a 1-2 pitch to left-center field for a run-scoring single.
The entire lineup for the Rock Cats fanned at least once, with three players (Aderling Mejia, Reynaldo Rodriguez and Brandon Waring) striking out three times. Portland's last two doubleheader sweeps on the road are both in New Britain Stadium. The last on July 22, 2013.
The Sea Dogs and Rock Cats get set to wrap up the three-game, two-day series with the finale, Saturday at 6:35 pm from New Britain Stadium. The 'Dogs will send righty Mike Augliera (1-1, 5.54) to the hill for his third start. The New Britain Rock Cats will send RHP Sean Gilmartin (1-1, 3.27) to the mound. Radio coverage begins at 6:15 PM on the U.S. Cellular Sea Dogs Radio Network and www.seadogs.com. Coverage on MiLB.TV kicks-off at 6:25 PM.