New Britain, CT - The Rock Cats defeated the Binghamton Mets in front of 8,079 fans at New Britain Stadium on Saturday evening. The victory also marked the second capacity crowd in as many nights and third of the season in the Hardware City.
Binghamton hung an early run on New Britain starter RHP Virgil Vasquez - collecting back-to-back hits to start the contest and then it was a sacrifice fly from C Kevin Plawecki that drove in LF Kyle Johnson for the first score of the game.
The Rock Cats looked as if they would at least tie the game with runners on first and third in the bottom of the second with no outs, but B-Mets starter RHP Matthew Bowman battled back to strike out the next three batters, leaving both runners stranded.
New Britain pulled ahead in the bottom of the third on RBI singles from both 1B Kennys Vargas and SS Brad Boyer. Vargas notched his 36th RBI of the season, placing him in the top five in that category for all Eastern League batters.
The visitors knotted up the game 2-2 in the top of the fifth inning on a CF Darrell Ceciliani single out to right field that scored 1B Matt Clark, who singled out to center with two outs.
The tie was shortlived however as the Cats took the lead on a wild pitch from Bowman in the bottom half of the fifth that allowed RF Daniel Ortiz to score easily from third base. Ortiz, who was named Eastern League player of the week on Monday and is batting .474 in his last ten games, cracked a one-out double to right field and then moved to third on a single through the hole at shortstop from Vargas.
Vasquez, who pitched his way out of a bases-loaded jam with two outs in the top of the second, pitched around nine hits over six innings of work, allowing two runs, both earned, while walking one and striking out four. Rock Cats relievers RHP Mark Hamburger, making his first appearance for New Britain, and RHP Lester Oliveros combined on the last three scoreless innings. Oliveros earned his team-leading seventh save of the season.
Bowman was effective, striking out twelve Rock Cats over seven innings, tying a season-high, but hit was timely hitting (10 hits) and the one wild pitch that did the righthander in. His record drops to 3-3.
The Rock Cats go for the three-game sweep on Sunday afternoon with a 1:35 p.m. scheduled start time. New Britain sends LHP Pat Dean to the mound while Binghamton will throw RHP Greg Peavey.