by PATRICK CAVANAUGH
The Fisher Cats, who sit at the bottom of the Eastern Division with a record of 16-32, turn to Radhames Liz to help them recover from a 4-3 loss on Friday, and last night’s brutal contest that resulted in an 18-0 shutout. Liz has the tools to get the job done, but the Fishers will only be looking for a strong three innings, as it is his first start after recovering from a knee injury.
“Liz’s pitch count is going to be watched closely today,” said Fisher Cats manager Bobby Meacham. “He hasn’t pitched too many innings this year.”
Liz, 30, has quite the track record of baseball experience. His career began in 2005 in the Baltimore Orioles system, but moved on to play in the Padres organization before spending three years in Korea with the LG Twins. During his three seasons overseas, Liz appeared 94 times and carried a record of 26-38. He led the Korea Baseball Organization in strikeouts (188) and had the fourth best ERA (3.06).
Today, his counterpart will be Portland’s LHP Brian Johnson (3-0, 2.01).
For live updates throughout today’s contest, you can follow Patrick Cavanaugh on Twitter (@pcava12).
After falling behind 2-1 in their best of five series, the Providence Bruins came all the way back to beat the number two seed Springfield Falcons three games to two. The seventh seeded Bruins move on to face the sixth seeded Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins in a best of seven game series.
The P-Bruins played well in each game of the Springfield series, having a chance to win each one. One of their losses came in overtime and the other saw them outshoot the Falcons 44-25. They produced great scoring chances, but goalie Mike McKenna was able to shut them down through the first three games.
Coming into this series, I said the Bruins top line of Ryan Spooner, Craig Cunningham, and Matt Fraser would have to play well for the underdog Bruins to win. In game four with their team facing elimination, they did just that. Fraser scored two goals while Spooner and Cunningham tallied a goal and an assist each en route to a 6-3 P-Bruins victory. Providence won the deciding game five by the same score of 6-3, this time with Seth Griffith and Joe Morrow leading the charge. Griffith, the leading scorer in the series, netted two goals and an assist while Morrow posted a goal and two assists in the clincher.
From the forwards to the defense, everyone contributed and played well. Ten players had at least one goal in the series, 14 had at least one assist, and 14 had a positive rating. While the success of the first line will be a big factor in round two, the depth of this team will also be a key. If the team continues to play like they did in round one, they should have similar success.
Another interesting thing to watch will be the Providence goaltending. Both Niklas Svedberg and Malcolm Subban received starts, with Subban starting the final two games. However, Svedberg replaced him in net during the final game and has played better so far this postseason. Both will likely see time this series, but Head Coach Bruce Cassidy will likely ride whoever the hot hand is.
This will be a rematch of last year’s second round match up, a series in which the number one seeded Bruins had a 3-0 series lead but fell in seven games to the Penguins. Game one will be Friday in Scranton at 7:05.
by PATRICK CAVANAUGH
(MANCHESTER)—The New Hampshire Fisher Cats swept the Reading Fightin’ Phils in a three-game series after they came out on top with a 4-2 victory on Sunday afternoon at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium.
It was a damp day in the Queen City, but that did not stop the Fisher Cats from winning their eleventh game of the season. The Phils were first to strike, plating a run in the top of the first inning, but the Fisher Cats overpowered that in the third inning, when two hits and a sacrifice fly add three runs to the scoreboard for the Fisher Cats.
“These last few games we have been playing solid defense,” said Fisher Cats manager Bobby Meacham. “We were shaky at the beginning of the season, but the guys are getting a lot more comfortable out there.”
In the fifth inning, Reading managed to add another run to the scoreboard, making it a one run ballgame, but Kevin Nolan’s solo homerun (his 2nd of the season) in the bottom of the eighth inning provided the Fisher Cats some insurance to help finish the game strong.
“His home run was big,” said Meacham. “It gives the guys a chance to relax, and gives us some more breathing room.”
Fisher Cats starter Casey Lawrence had an exceptional outing, pitching 6.2 innings, giving up five hits, two earned runs, walked one batter, and struck out four. His replacements (Tyler Ybarra and Scott Gracey) were able to come in and get the job done for the remainder of the game.
There were a handful of passing showers throughout the game, but it was played in a reasonable time frame of two hours and twenty-seven minutes. The Fisher Cats will open up a four-game series with the Trenton Thunder at home tomorrow night at 6:35 PM. Blue Jays Top Prospect Aaron Sanchez will get the nod for New Hampshire.
The regular season has ended and the Providence Bruins are heading back to the playoffs for a second consecutive year. The P-Bruins finished with a record of 40-25-2-9 and 91 points, good for the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. The team clinched a playoff berth Friday night when they beat the Manchester Monarchs 2-1 in overtime on the strength of two Matt Fraser goals and good goaltending from Niklas Svedberg.
Providence will play the two seeded Springfield Falcons in their first round match-up, and although they are the lower seed they will start the series at home. Due to arena scheduling issues, home ice will be given to the Falcons in games two, three, and five of this five game series. The Falcons beat the Bruins 6-2-0-2 in the season series.
In order to beat this tough Falcon team, the P-Bruins are going to have to rely on their stars to step up. Top prospect Ryan Spooner and his line mates Fraser and team MVP Craig Cunningham will have to show why they are on the cusp of the NHL and be the team’s best line consistently. This line was able to create chances and goals late on Friday after a tough start to the game. Rookie Alexander Khokhlachev, the team’s leading scorer, and the second line will also have to play up to par and show the same type of firepower as the first line. An X factor could be Bobby Robins and the third line, a line that has played well and is the team’s most physical line. They could swing momentum in any given game with their play and against a tough Falcon team any edge the Bruins can get is a plus.
Defensively, Providence has plenty of depth led by David Warsofsky and Zach Trotman. Joe Morrow has returned from a knee injury and all but two of their defensemen have positive ratings. In net, the combination of Svedberg and Malcolm Subban has been very solid and whoever starts in net should continue to make it tough on opposing offenses.
Another potential advantage for the Bruins is the power play. With many good scorers and so much talent it’s no surprise the Bruins were sixth in the league on the power play. When they get chances on the man advantage, they can’t afford to miss them.
Game one of the series will take place Wednesday at 7:05 at the Dunkin Donuts Center.
by PATRICK CAVANAUGH
(MANCHESTER)—The Fisher Cats put forth a solid defensive effort but they could not get their bats to spark up as they dropped the series finale to the Binghamton Mets by a score of 6-0 on Sunday afternoon.
The matinee matchup started off shaky when Blue Jays top prospect Aaron Sanchez came out and struck out a batter before he found himself in a bases loaded jam that he was later able to escape. However, the nightmare returned for the Fisher Cats in the fourth inning, when the Mets walk in a run, score on a sacrifice fly, and plate a run after an RBI single.
Fisher Cats reliever Tony Davis replaced Sanchez in the fourth inning and held the B-Mets to their three runs. The Fisher Cats starter threw 3.2 innings, gave up four hits, three earned runs, walked four batters, and struck out four as well. Davis pitched for 2.1 hitless innings, walked two batters, and had one strikeout. Fisher Cats pitching gave up a total of ten walks on Sunday afternoon.
In the top of the seventh inning, Binghamton caught a lucky break when Darrell Ceciliani scored on a passed ball. The Mets collected two more runs in the 9th inning off an RBI double and a sacrifice fly. At the end of the day, the six runs scored were enough to capture the victory and win the series.
The homestand continues for the Fisher Cats as they play host to New Britain for the next three days before getting on the bus for a seven-game road-trip in Binghamton and New Britain. Tomorrow the Fisher Cats will turn to Deck McGuire (1-1, 3.60) to take on the Rock Cats. First pitch is slated for 6:35 PM at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium.