Cats ride five-run inning to series lead

New Hampshire moves within one win of Eastern League title

Travis d'Arnaud is hitting .250 with five RBIs in seven playoff games. (Kevin Pataky/

By David Heck / Special to | September 16, 2011 8:15 PM

Although New Hampshire did not have a hit off Richmond starter Jason Stevenson through five innings, Travis d'Arnaud and the Fisher Cats were confident they would get to him sooner or later.

"He got us the first couple times, but all of us we were ready to get in the box the third time and hopefully get good swings on him," the Blue Jays' top prospect said.

Thanks in part to an RBI double from d'Arnaud, the Fisher Cats did just that, plating five runs in the sixth as they beat the Flying Squirrels, 5-3, to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-5 Eastern League Championship Series.

Stevenson did not allow his first baserunner until the fifth, when he issued a one-out walk to Mike McDade. After Jonathan Diaz walked with two outs in the sixth, Jays No. 2 prospect Anthony Gose singled to right for the Fisher Cats' first hit of the night. The 30-year-old left-hander threw three wild pitches, walking Kevin Howard and allowing both Diaz and Gose to score.

Moises Sierra and d'Arnaud delivered back-to-back RBI doubles, while McDade capped the rally with a run-scoring single.

"Our hitting coach, Justin Mashore, brought a bunch of us together and told us to stop chasing the pitcher's pitches and wait for a pitch that we can handle and hit," said d'Arnaud, who was named Eastern League MVP after hitting .311 with 21 homers and 78 RBIs this season. "Sooner or later, he walked a couple people, and finally a few of us got pitches to hit and made sure we didn't miss them."

New Hampshire starter Yohan Pino gave up one run on six hits over 4 1/3 innings before four relievers combined to surrender two runs on five hits over the final 4 2/3 frames. Wes Etheridge (1-0) earned the win after escaping a bases-loaded jam in the fifth by getting Chris Dominguez to hit into a double play.

"Before the game, [Pino] had all his stuff working -- fastball, curveball, slider, changeup," said d'Arnaud, the Fisher Cats catcher. "He was locating and it made my job a lot easier to call the game and have a feel for how he wanted to pitch and go after hitters.

"The bullpen's been outstanding all playoffs. Wes came in and got that huge ground ball that we needed. ... That's what you ask for from your bullpen every day -- put up zeros and help us secure the win."

Deck McGuire, Toronto's No. 3 prospect, will take the ball in Game 4, hoping to close out the series in his hometown of Richmond. In four regular-season outings for the Fisher Cats, he went 2-1 with a 4.35 ERA.

"Ever since he's been up here, I've thought he's an outstanding pitcher," d'Arnaud said. "I'm really excited for him that he's going to go out there and pitch in a championship game, especially in front of his hometown. He'll be extremely focused and ready to pitch and ready to help us get the Eastern League championship."

Giants No. 3 prospect Charlie Culberson was 2-for-5 with a triple and a run scored, while Juan Perez contributed two hits and Richmond's lone RBI.

David Heck is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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