The New Hampshire Fisher Cats had been playing close games throughout the playoffs. So it's no surprise they won the Eastern League Championship in yet another nail-biter.
Blue Jays No. 2 prospect Anthony Gose scored the go-ahead run on an error in the top of the ninth inning Saturday as New Hampshire edged the Richmond Flying Squirrels, 4-3, to capture its second league title.
The Fisher Cats ended the series in four games, dropping only the opener, 10-9. The championship is their first since 2004, the team's inaugural year in New Hampshire.
"It's a tremendous feeling," manager Sal Fasano said. "I'm really proud of the guys and all the work they put in. It's euphoric to a certain extent. To have an opportunity to watch them grow and ultimately hold a trophy over their head is a pretty wonderful experience."
After Gose singled with one out in the ninth, Moises Sierra sent another ball to right field that was misplayed by Francisco Peguero. He allowed the ball to get by him before retrieving it at the warning track, giving Gose a chance to score the go-ahead run.
"The ball was hit to right field, I knew I was going to go to third," Gose said. "I didn't realize that he missed the ball, but manager Sal was waving me home. It pretty much clicked in my head that he had missed it. I scored standing up, and that was the winning run."
Fisher Cats starter and Jays No. 3 prospect Deck McGuire threw 55 pitches over three innings against his hometown team, giving up two runs on four hits. Coming back from a strained oblique muscle, the 22-year-old right-hander was set to go three frames or make 60 pitches.
"Deck gave us three solid innings," Fasano said. "He gave up a couple runs, but he's just coming off an injury. He threw the ball OK and kept the game within reach. Those were three huge innings."
Five relievers combined to allow one run on six hits over the final six innings for the Fisher Cats, with Clint Everts (1-0) earning the win after striking out both batters he faced in the eighth. Bobby Korecky finished up with a perfect ninth, locking down his fifth postseason save. Four of them came via 1-2-3 innings.
"I knew once I had scored the game was over because [Korecky] was coming in and there was no chance we would lose that game at that point," Gose said.
Kevin Howard went 1-for-4 with a two-run homer for his fourth and fifth RBIs of the series. After starting the season in independent ball, he was signed by the Blue Jays and combined to hit .277 with six homers and 31 RBIs in 56 games between Double-A and Triple-A. The 30-year-old infielder batted .348 with a league-leading six extra-base hits and six RBIs in eight games en route to being named postseason MVP.
"He's been outstanding," Fasano said. "When we got him from Triple-A, we were really happy to have him. He's a good veteran leader, he really helped the kids along. Plus, he proved it in his play. Not only did he talk game, but he walked it, too."
All four games in the Championship Series were decided by two runs or fewer, as were all six of the Fisher Cats' postseason wins.
"I think a measure of a good team is what you do during those one-run games," Fasano said. "[The team] has a tendency to really know what it takes to come out on top, whether it be a little extra hustling by Anthony Gose or the bullpen coming in and shutting the door. One-run games are a key to being a good team."
Cleanup hitter Johnny Monell doubled twice for Richmond, while Peguero -- the Giants' No. 2 prospect -- went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored.