Blake Swihart is off to a good start this year. All he needed to do was get his first Double-A homer out of the way.
The Red Sox's No. 4 prospect went yard, drove in three runs and had a perfect vantage point for a dominant start by Mickey Pena as Portland beat New Britain, 6-0, to complete a doubleheader sweep.
Swihart finished 2-for-4, extending his hitting streak to five games. He singled in his first at-bat before launching a three-run blast in the fifth inning that capped the scoring.
"I was feeling good and a couple of pitches were left up high," the 22-year-old catcher/designated hitter said. "Overall, I felt pretty comfortable today."
Swihart has hit safely in nine of the 10 games he's played this year and is batting .333 with eight RBIs. His .863 OPS ranks third among Eastern League backstops, and he's scored six runs. Still, that first homer was a relief.
"It felt really good," Swihart said. "I've hit a couple of balls really hard, so to get one felt really good. It's always nice hitting home runs. As soon as I hit it, it felt good and I knew it had a chance."
Swihart believes the reason for his strong start is pretty simple.
"I'm staying within myself, being comfortable and getting the right pitches to hit and at the right times," the 26th overall pick in the 2011 Draft said.
Pena struck out 12 and allowed two hits over 4 2/3 innings, exiting after throwing 92 pitches. While Swihart served as the Sea Dogs' DH in the nightcap, he had a pretty good idea what was happening on the mound.
"He looked great, he put the ball over the plate," Swihart said. "He got into a lot of deep counts and that's what made his pitch count so high. Overall, I thought he did a great job tonight."
Michael Olmsted (1-0) allowed a hit and fanned two over 1 1/3 innings before Miguel Celestino struck out the side in the seventh to finish off Portland's second shutout of the season.
Mookie Betts, the Red Sox's sixth-ranked prospect, singled, scored a run and extended his hitting streak to seven games.
The Sea Dogs won the opener, 6-4, as No. 20 prospect Travis Shaw went 4-for-4 with his first homer of the season and four RBIs.