Fisher Cats notch huge win against Bowie
MANCHESTER — The Nolins — or Nolans, if you prefer — led the way.
Left-handed starting pitcher Sean Nolin got the Fisher Cats started.
Shortstop Kevin Nolan of Nashua took care of the late-game heroics with a run-scoring, walk-off single up the middle, and the New Hampshire Fisher Cats beat the Bowie Baysox, 2-1, in 11 innings in front of a Splash Day crowd of 6,415 on Wednesday afternoon at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium.
The home team snapped a three-game losing streak and perhaps gave itself a boost toward a playoff push.
“We’ve kind of been struggling a little bit lately,” said Nolan. “Hopefully a win like this can turn us around and get us going.”
New Hampshire is 3-11 in its last 14 games. At 55-59, the Fisher Cats are in a four-team battle with Trenton, Portland and New Britain for the second playoff spot in the Eastern Division behind leader Binghamton.
Nolin struck out the first five batters he faced, matched a team record with 13 strikeouts himself, and combined with three teammates for a franchise-record 18 K’s overall.
“I guess that’s pretty good, but it could have been all for naught if Kevin didn’t get that hit in the 11th inning,” said manager Gary Allenson.
Third baseman Andy Burns led off the bottom of the 11th with a single to left field. After Adam Loewen struck out, Brad Glenn dropped a single into center field, and Burns, with a nice bit of running, hustled to third.
Nolan — with a two-ball, two-strike count — hit a ground-ball single up the middle, easily scoring Burns.
“With two strikes, I was just trying to get the ball in play,” Nolan said. “They were playing a little in, but I got the barrel on it and hit it where they weren’t.”
Nolin set the tone right off the bat.
Gustavo Chacin struck out 13 Binghamton Mets on Sept. 8, 2004, at Gill Stadium in the first round of the Eastern League playoffs to establish a team record that has lasted close to nine years.
A couple of Fisher Cats pitchers — Nolin being the latest — have taken direct aim at the mark in recent weeks.
His was the third 13-strikeout effort by a Fisher Cats starter in the last month.
Righty Marcus Stroman had the first two, at New Britain on July 7 and at Bowie on July 31.
Nolin threw 108 pitches on Wednesday, and 78 were strikes. He allowed six hits over his six innings, struck out each batter in the lineup at least once and worked his way out of trouble a couple of times.
In the third inning, Bowie, the Orioles’ Double-A affiliate, had a leadoff single and double. Nolin got out of the inning with a pop fly to second base, a strikeout and a grounder to short.
“Second and third with nobody out,” said pitching coach Tom Signore. “When you pitch your way out of that, you have to have pretty good stuff.”
“He had a lot of life on his fastball,” Fisher Cats catcher Jack Murphy said of Nolin. “He was pitching up and down in the zone and finishing guys. He got out there and had everything going for him.”
Signore passed kudos Murphy’s way, too.
“Sean was very good,” the coach said. “He has four quality pitches. But I’ll also tell you Jack does a heck of a job calling a game, too. Sometimes, I don’t think Jack and A.J. (Jimenez, Murphy’s fellow catcher) get enough credit for the games they call. They’re very good at that.”
Signore gave a shout-out to relievers Ryan Tepera, Randy Boone and Scott Gracey, as well. They allowed one hit between them, struck out five and walked one over five innings.
“They were all exceptional today,” Signore said.
FISHERS NOTES: Right-hander Kyle Drabek, on a rehab assignment from Toronto, makes his first start here since Sept. 2, 2010, tonight in the series final against Bowie at 7:05 ... Murphy, who had walked, scored New Hampshire’s first run in the third inning on Loewen’s fielder’s choice ... Bowie starter Mike Wright, one of the top prospects in the Baltimore organization, allowed five hits, struck out seven and walked two ... Nolin was not involved in the decision and stayed at 7-3. His earned run average dropped to 2.84 ... The Fisher Cats begin a three-game set at home against Richmond on Friday at 7:05 p.m.