by PATRICK CAVANAUGH
(MANCHESTER)—Before Sunday afternoon’s game at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium, Seacoast Helicopters was in attendance with one of their helicopters sitting in centerfield, as they gave one lucky fan the opportunity to take off from the ballpark and enjoy a birds-eye view of the Queen City, before landing back on the field and delivering the game balls.
“This is going to be quite the memory for one lucky fan,” said Fisher Cats president and GM Rick Brenner in a press release. “Riding in a helicopter is such a thrilling experience, but landing in the outfield and then delivering the ball to home plate takes it to a new level. We look forward to working with Seacoast Helicopters to create this memorable opportunity.”
It was quite the sight for fans that arrived at the ballpark early on Sunday afternoon for the Fisher Cats game. Most fans expect to see batting practice, athletes playing catch, or coaches hitting their infielders ground balls, not a helicopter stationed in straightaway center-field.
The gates to the ballpark opened at noon, and the Fisher Cats allowed fans onto the field for a half-hour to take pictures with the R66 helicopter and enjoy an on-field sing-a-long with Lil’ Iguana Children’s Safety Foundation.
So how did the lucky fan win this one-of-a-kind experience?
The Fisher Cats hosted an online contest on their Facebook page, and anyone over the age of 18 was free to enter. The random winner was selected on Friday, August 14, amd will depart from the outfield by chopper at approximately 12:40 PM and return at 1:15 PM with the game balls in hand to deliver to today’s umpires at the pre-game plate meeting.
The Fishers host the Erie SeaWolves today and finish off their homestand at 1:35 PM. New Hampshire looks to avoid being swept after falling in the first two games of the series. RHP Asutin Bibens-Dirkx takes the hill for New Hampshire. Be sure to stay tuned to BSU18’s social media outlets for live updates and a game recap.
by PATRICK CAVANAUGH
Erie wasted no time getting on the scoreboard, as they plated their first run in the top of the first inning on a Jason Krizan RBI single that scored leadoff man Wynton Bernard from third base. The SeaWolves tacked on three more runs in the third inning after a sacrifice fly and a 2 RBI single from Dominic Ficociello. Then in the 5th inning, Dean Green hit a loud RBI double to left-field, which gave Erie a 5-0 lead.
New Hampshire finally broke the silence in the bottom of the 6th inning. Christian Lopes led off the inning with a single, before Kevin Nolan reached on an error, and Ryan Schimpf cleared the bases with a three-run homerun over the right-field fence, reducing Erie’s lead to 5-3. However, the Fisher Cats could not capitalize on any further opportunities.
New Hampshire starter Scott Barnes was charged with the loss after tossing three innings, giving up five hits, four runs (all earned), walked two, and struck out four. Josh Turley, his Erie counterpart, was credited with the win. SeaWolves reliever Joe Mantiply was credited with the save.
The Fisher Cats are back in action tomorrow afternoon as they finish off the series and the homestand with a Sunday afternoon matinee against the Erie SeaWolves. First pitch is scheduled for 1:35 PM. RHP Austin Bibens-Dirkx (4-6, 4.82) is slated to start for New Hampshire. You can follow Patrick Cavanaugh on Twitter for live updates throughout the game.
by PATRICK CAVANAUGH
(MANCHESTER, NH)—The New Hampshire Fisher Cats continued their homestand and opened up a three-game series with the Erie SeaWolves on Friday night, falling to the
Western Division rival by a final score of 5-4.
The Fisher Cats got on the board early, plating three big runs in the bottom of the first inning. Roemon Fields walked to leadoff the game, and stole second base before Melky Mesa hit a pop-up that was mishandled by Erie the shortstop, which allowed him to score. Later in the inning, K.C. Hobson hit a 2 RBI infield single that gave New Hampshire a 3-0 edge.
The SeaWolves were able to strike back however. They tacked one run on the scoreboard in the top of fourth inning, after Dominic Ficociello hit a sacrifice fly to left-field and scored Jason Krizan from third base. Then in the sixth inning, JaCoby Jones hit a solo homerun to right field. In the top of the 7th, Erie plated a run on an Alberto Gonzalex RBI double, and Dean Green sealed the deal with a deep two-run homer in the top of the 8th frame, giving Erie a 5-3 lead.
New Hampshire scraped one run across in the bottom of the 8th inning after Ryan Schimpf hit a solo homer, but their efforts fell short and New Hampshire fell by a final score of 5-4.
“We had a chance to win the ballgame,” said Fisher Cats manager Bobby Meacham. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t come through a couple of times.”
New Hampshire’s ace starting pitcher Casey Lawrence threw well in Friday night’s contest. The righty hurled 7.1 innings, gave up 9 hits, 4 runs (all earned), and walked no Erie hitters. He showcased a dominant fastball in addition to a changeup, slider, and curveball.
“Casey goes out there, throws strikes, and gets them to put the ball in play,” said Meacham. “He kept us close, and in the end they got to him a little bit.”
Lawrence was charged with the loss, while the win was credited to Erie’s reliever Montreal Robertson.
With the loss to open up the weekend, the Fisher Cats drop game one of the three-game series with Erie. The Fishers and SeaWolves are back in action tomorrow night at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester. New Hampshire left-handed pitcher Scott Barnes (2-3, 3.99) will take the hill. First pitch is slated for 7:05 P.M.
PAWTUCKET, R.I. – With Mike Napoli being traded to the Texas Rangers, there is a hole at first base the Boston Red Sox must fill for the rest of this year as well as going forward. With a thin class of free agents at the position, the organization will likely have to fill that role from within.
So far Travis Shaw has done tremendous in his brief time with Boston, continuing hit both left-handed and right-handed pitching. He was not a heralded prospect, but the 25-year old has certainly done enough to earn an extended look. The team also has Brock Holt who can play anywhere on the diamond and could move there once Dustin Pedroia returns. Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval don’t play first, but it is seemingly only a matter of time before the organization is forced to move one of them there.
Then there is 31-year old Allen Craig. It feels more like two decades ago rather than two years ago Craig was a National League All-Star. His 2013 season was the best of his career, as he posted a .297 average with 97 runs batted in and a remarkable .454 average with runners in scoring position (the third highest ever behind George Brett and Tony Gwynn).
His last two seasons haven’t gone as expected to say the least and his career hit a low when he was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket earlier this year. Boston even outrighted him off the 40-man roster seemingly in hopes someone would claim the rest of his $26.5 million contract.
Now, his name has come up as a replacement for Napoli and General Manager Ben Cherington has said Craig will eventually get another chance. This would require him being put back on the 40-man roster, but is this the right move?
Craig has not hit for power and has not had much luck driving in runs. Hitting the middle of the PawSox order, he has just 20 RBIs on 11 extra base hits and a .197 average with RISP. This is a far cry from his 2013 numbers and a far cry from what he is capable of.
“We’ve seen glimpses of it,” PawSox manager Kevin Boles said of Craig’s power. “He’s aware of it and is working hard in terms of going through video analysis, work in the cage and going back to some things that have worked for him in the past. We are going to see some impact here eventually and we are looking forward to that.”
Despite poor power numbers, Craig is still finding ways to get on base. He is second on the team in walks while posting a solid .274 average. It’s the solid numbers in other places along with the hard work of Craig that lead Boles not to be concerned.
“We are looking for the power but as far as it being a concern, no its not,” he said. “We are looking for quality at bats. We want high frequency of contact and barrel manipulation.”
Craig recently had a 17-game on base streak and is hitting much better over the past few weeks. He has not been afraid to use the opposite field, as two of the three home runs he has this year have gone that way. For him, he said that is just getting back to the old Allen Craig.
“I’m working playing the game and taking my at bats like I always do,” Craig said. “Typically I’ve hit the ball really hard to right field in my career. I’ve done that recently so that’s a good thing.”
If he is to get a chance to play in Boston, he will probably need to show a little bit more power than he has so far. However, his opposite field approach and ability to get on base present a strong case for his eventual return to the majors.
by PATRICK CAVANAUGH
New Hampshire starter Conner Greene, who is just 20 years old, was the shining star of the weeknight victory that snapped a Fisher Cats four-game losing streak. He was called up from the Dunedin Blue Jays (Toronto’s Advanced-A affiliate) just a couple of days ago. He had a dominant fastball that consistently reached the mid-90s throughout the evening. His change-up was a great “second offer” pitch throughout the night that seemed to catch the RubberDucks off guard. The California native lived up to his high expectations, pitching seven scoreless innings, giving up three hits, three walks, and fanning one Akron batter.
“He was outstanding,” said Fisher Cats skipper Bobby Meacham. “He couldn’t make a mistake and still come out a winner, and I thought he was outstanding.”
The Fisher Cats scraped their only run across the plate in the bottom of the 3rd inning, after Jorge Flores hit an RBI single to center-field to score Derrick Chung, who led-off the inning with a double. New Hampshire saw several more opportunities to score throughout the night, but could not capitalize on them, as they left fourteen men on base.
“Both pitchers were going at it, down in the zone, and a lot of fastballs,” said Meacham. “They weren’t trying to trick people, but trying to record outs.”
Greene was credited with the win, while the loss was charged to Akron’s Mike Clevinger. New Hampshire reliever Blake McFarland was credited with the save after a nice makeup outing, which came just one day after a shaky performance in which the Fisher Cats would go on to drop in extra innings.
Although they came out with the victory, the Fisher Cats drop the three-game series 2-1 to the Akron RubberDucks, and now move on to a three-game series with the Erie SeaWolves, which will close out the homestand at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium. The recently featured Fisher Cat and right-handed ace Casey Lawrence gets the nod for New Hampshire. First pitch is slated for 7:05 P.M.