PORTLAND, ME - Bo Bichette and Jon Berti logged three hits apiece at the top of order to lead the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Blue Jays) to a 4-2 win over the Portland Sea Dogs (Red Sox) Thursday night at Hadlock Field. With the win and a Trenton Thunder (Yankees) loss in Altoona earlier this evening, New Hampshire is alone at the top of the Eastern Division standings and saw their magic number shrink to four with four games to play.
The 'Cats scored in the first inning for the third consecutive game. Berti doubled then scored on a Bichette single, and Santiago Espinal brought home Bichette with a two-out single later in the frame to give the Fisher Cats a 2-0 advantage.
Starter Hector Perez was stout for the Blue Jays affiliate. He surrendered two runs (one earned) in the fourth inning but only walked one while striking out a season-high seven over five stanzas.
New Hampshire retook the lead for good in the seventh. Berti started the rally with a triple - his third in three games - and scored on a Bichette single. Harold Ramirez doubled home Bichette later in the inning to give the 'Cats a 4-2 lead they wouldn't relinquish.
Josh DeGraaf (W, 7-5) was superb in relief. The right-hander blanked the 'Dogs over three innings and struck out six batters without issuing a free pass to earn the win. Corey Copping (S, 2) got the final three outs in the ninth to secure the victory.
Berti, Bichette and Espinal each had three knocks while Ramirez had a pair of hits.
New Hampshire returns home Friday night for the first of four with Hartford (Rockies). RHP T.J. Zeuch will go for the 'Cats against a yet to be named Yard Goats starter. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. on the WGIR Fisher Cats Radio Network.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.