Suddenly, Fisher Cats are back in the playoff hunt
Lance Zawadzki heads home to score the winning run on Amadeo Zazueta's hit in the bottom of the ninth inning Sunday at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester. The Fisher Cats beat the Trenton Thunder, 2-1. (Bruce Preston / Union Leader)
The New Hampshire Fisher Cats are a playoff contender with two weeks to go.
Amadeo Zazueta's walk-off double plated Jack Murphy to give the Fisher Cats to a 2-1 Eastern League victory against Trenton before 5,573 fans at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium Sunday.
New Hampshire's three-game weekend sweep of the Thunder pulled the Fisher Cats (62-63) within 2-1/2-games of Trenton (65-61) for the second and final playoff berth in the Eastern Division.
New Hampshire has won five straight games and seven of its last 10. They open a three-game series Monday in Portland before motoring on to Reading, Pa., for the start of a four-game series against the Fightin' Phils on Thursday. The Fisher Cats currently have a better road record (30-29) than they do at home (32-34).
New Hampshire, which won two of the three games against Trenton by one run over the weekend, was deadlocked at 1-1 entering the home ninth.
Trenton relief pitcher and loser Pat Venditte (0-2) started the ninth and issued a one-out walk to Murphy. Venditte was replaced by Danny Burawa, who was greeted by a single from Lance Zawadzki, advancing Murphy to second. Zazueta ended the game with his double to right, easily scoring Murphy.
The hit made a winner of reliever Ryan Tepera, who was on the hook for the loss after yielding a solo homer to Mason Williams in the eighth inning, giving Trenton the lead.
But New Hampshire leadoff hitter Kenny Wilson matched it in the home eighth, a solo shot to center off Venditte.
New Hampshire starter Austin Bibens-Dirkx pitched scoreless ball through seven innings on 99 pitches, 59 for strikes. He allowed just two hits, walked two and fanned six to lower his ERA to 2.05.
Trenton starter Scottie Allen also was impressive, pitching a two-hitter over 6-1/3 scoreless innings on 98 pitches. He walked four and fanned two.
Zazueta had two of New Hampshire's six hits. New Hampshire outscored Trenton 21-9 in the three-game series. New Hampshire won the season series against the Thunder, 10-8.
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