MANCHESTER, N.H. - Mike McDade's return to the Fisher Cats was a triumphant one on Saturday evening. The slugger, who signed with Toronto during spring training, belted a first-pitch, first-inning home run to spark the Fisher Cats (10-10) to a 5-0 victory over the Reading Fightin Phils (11-8). The win is the Fisher Cats fourth straight and improved the team to the .500-level for the first time since the opening week of the season.
McDade's home run was the highlight of a three-run first inning against Reading starter Holby Milner. Leading 1-0 after a single and an error, McDade ripped the first pitch he saw into the Dinner in the Den in left field to give New Hampshire a 3-0 lead. The home run was McDade's 32nd in a Fisher Cats uniform following the 16 he hit in 2011 and the 15 he whacked in 2012.
New Hampshire added runs in the fourth and sixth, both off the bat of the red hot Jonathan Jones. Jones plated the first with a squeeze bunt before a traditional single in the sixth gave the Fisher Cats a seemingly insurmountable lead. Jones, who has been the starting center fielder since the Blue Jays designated Kenny Wilson for assignment, has hit safely in five straight while picking up five RBI during that stretch.
Scott Copeland (W; 1-3) was the benefactor of the early run support as he turned in his best outing to date to earn his first Double-A victory. The righty went seven shutout innings, giving up just four hits while striking out five for the second straight outing. He turned it over to Randy Boone and Tony Davis, who each worked a scoreless inning to preserve New Hampshire's first shutout since opening day.
In addition to McDade and Jones, Michael Crouse had a big day with three hits, including a pair of doubles. He scored two runs and added his fourth steal of the season, all while extending his hit streak to five games. During that stretch, Crouse has eight hits in 19 at-bats.
With a second consecutive series win in hand, the Fisher Cats go for the sweep on Sunday afternoon at 1:35 p.m. Sunday's game is a Reading Challenge Day presented by Velcro USA Inc. The theme for the game is Country-Western Day. After the game, all kids can run the bases courtesy of the Buyers Beware Campaign. Tickets are available at the team box office, by calling (603) 641-2005, and by visiting www.nhfishercats.com.
With a second consecutive series win in hand, the Fisher Cats go for the sweep on Sunday afternoon behind right-hander Casey Lawrence (1-1, 2.66). Hector Neris will start for Reading. Tom Gauthier and Bob Lipman will have the radio call beginning at 1:15 p.m. on WGIR 610 AM and www.nhfishercats.com.