The Portland Sea Dogs have been enjoying a special season. And while their Eastern League Eastern Division title might not be very surprising, it doesn't make it any less satisfying.
Boston's Double-A affiliate beat Harrisburg, 3-2, on Friday at Hadlock Field and clinched the fifth division crown in team history and first since 2005 after second-place Binghamton lost to Richmond.
"This wasn't a stated goal," Sea Dogs manager Billy McMillon told the Portland Press Herald. "The goal is to go out and compete every day. With the talent the Red Sox have assembled, if we play well, we should compete.
"We came out ahead a lot more than we lost so far. ... Even with the all the [roster] movements we've had, they all worked hard. I'm happy for them."
At 86-53, the Dogs need one more win to break the club record set in 1995. They have a three-game lead over Binghamton (83-56) with three games remaining in the regular season. If the Sea Dogs and Mets finish with the identical records, Portland would come out on top by virtue of its 12-9 advantage in head-to-head matchups.
The two clubs will meet in the best-of-5 Eastern League semifinals, beginning Wednesday in Binghamton.
Offensively, Mookie Betts -- the Red Sox's top prospect who hit a grand slam for the big league club on Friday -- posted a .994 OPS in 54 games with Portland, while No. 14 prospect Sean Coyle paces the club with 15 homers in 94 games.
Henry Owens, Boston's second-ranked prospect, went 14-4 with a 2.60 ERA in 20 starts for the Sea Dogs and was named Eastern League Pitcher of the Year. Brian Johnson, the organization's No. 10 prospect, is 10-2 with a 1.75 ERA in 20 starts.
In the Dogs' division-clinching win on Friday, Keury De La Cruz laced an RBI double in the first inning and Coyle followed a throwing error by Senators third baseman Matt Skole with a two-run single in the fourth. Starter Mike Augliera pitched five scoreless innings before yielding a run in the sixth.
Richmond 2, Binghamton 1
Mario Lisson twice drove in Skyler Stromsmoe and starter Adalberto Mejia turned in a quality start as the Flying Squirrels got help from Erie in wrapping up the Western Division crown. The SeaWolves paved the way for Richmond by pounding second-place Akron, 14-4. Box score
Florida State League
Daytona 8, Tampa 4
Dan Vogelbach, Chicago's No. 11 prospect, led off the bottom of the sixth inning with a tiebreaking homer and Marco Hernandez added a three-run blast, helping the Cubs clinch the second-half North Division title after finishing fifth in the first half. Box score
Kane County 6, Cedar Rapids 1
Trey Martin smacked a solo shot and Cubs No. 13 prospect Jeimer Candelario hit a two-run homer in the fifth inning as the Cougars stormed back from an early deficit to clinch the second-half Western Division title with a win that was completed early due to rain. Box score
Hillsboro 7, Tri-City 6
D-backs No. 15 prospect Stryker Trahan homered and drove in four runs to fuel a Hops win that, coupled with second-place Salem Keizer's loss at Spokane, secured the second-half South Division title for a club that also took home the first-half crown. Box score