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Allen Lessels' On Baseball: Jacobo hopes to prove he belongs in AA ball

August 17. 2013 9:20PM
The Fisher Cats' Gabe Jacobo hits a home run in the third inning, against Tenton at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium, on Friday, in Manchester. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)

MANCHESTER -- Try, try again.

Fisher Cat first baseman/designated hitter Gabe Jacobo came up to New Hampshire last summer and made a major bid to stick in Double-AA.

Things didn't go quite like he planned.

"I thought maybe I'd come back here," Jacobo said on Friday at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium. "It just didn't work out that way. They signed some other guys and stuff. Just went down there and I tried to work hard and tried to work my way back up here and finally did. That's just stuff I can't control. I can't worry about that too much."

Jacobo, 26, started this season in Single-A Dunedin, as he did last year, and was called up to New Hampshire on July 11.

He hit a home run in his first game back.

And he's been on fire lately.

Jacobo's opposite field, two-run homer down the right field in the third inning on Friday night helped the Fisher Cats rally early in what turned into a marathon, 15-inning, 5-4 win over the Trenton ThunderJacobo had three hits in six at-bats on Friday night and had contributed multiple hits in seven of his last eight games going into Saturday night's rematch with the Thunder. He's hitting .368 with six home runs and 16 runs batted in 30 games with New Hampshire.

"It's nice to put up some numbers and show them that I belong up here," Jacobo said. "I don't feel overmatched or overpowered up here. If they need me to go up any higher than here, hopefully they feel like they can rely on me. That's all I'm trying to get to."

Jacobo got to New Hampshire in June last year and, after missing some time with a leg injury, hit .330 in 25 games with eight doubles and a couple of home runs.

He played his first four professional seasons in the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim organization and reached Double-A in 2011. The Blue Jays picked him up before the 2012 season in the Minor League Rule V draft when the Angels did not put him on their 40-man roster.

Jacobo has fueled a bit of a recent offensive resurgence by the Fisher Cats. They scored 26 runs to take three of four games at New Britain last week to win their first series since sweeping Portland in a three-game set from July 15-17.

"He is getting the barrel of the bat on the ball with some backspin," said New Hampshire manager Gary Allenson. "He's been swinging the bat good. And he's not the only guy that's contributing. ... It's not one guy hot. We need five guys hot. Five guys hot takes a little of the heat off the bullpen."

A.J. Jimenez had three hits and three runs batted in on Thursday night in a win at New Britain and shortstop Kevin Nolan of Nashua had three hits.

On Friday, Jacob and Nolan hit back-to-back homers on consecutive pitches in the third inning to dig the Fisher Cats out of a hole.

The teams close out their season Sunday afternoon at 1:35 at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium.

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The Fisher Cats' offense bogged down after the third inning on Friday against a stream of Trenton relievers, including one who spends most of his time playing first base and another who is a catcher by trade.

Reliever Aaron Dott was the spot starter for the Thunder, infielder Casey Stevenson threw two hitless innings late and the Fisher Cats finally got their winning run in their second inning against catcher Jose Gil.

"It took three and two-thirds innings before we finally scored on a position player," said Allenson.

They finally did when Allenson sent Ryan Schimpf scampering all the way home from second base on Kenny Wilson's single to short right field. He beat the throw and the home team had a much-needed win.

It was a game the Fisher Cats desperately needed to keep their fading Eastern League playoff hopes alive. They are chasing the Thunder, who currently hold down the second playoff spot in the Eastern Division. New Hampshire pulled within four and a half games of Trenton with Friday night's win.

Lefty Matt Wright, who has struggled and turned in his best performance of the season, and his fellow relief pitchers were instrumental in the win.

"It was crazy with all those position players coming in," Wright said. "I thought, 'I've got to try and just get as many out of me as I can so hopefully we have an advantage in that department a little bit.' And luckily we came through."

Wright allowed two hits over his four innings, struck out four and did not walk a batter and picked up the win. Evan Crawford followed starter Marcus Walden with a couple of scoreless innings and Ryan Tepera, Alan Farina and Dayton Marze each kept Trenton off the board for an inning.

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Right-hander Terry Doyle of Salem pitched seven scoreless innings on Thursday night against Altoona in his best outing since joining the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs from Triple-A Pawtucket.

Doyle gave up six hits, struck out three and walked three and was not involved in the decision in the 2-0 loss. He is 1-4 with a 3.59 earned run average in eight starts and has allowed 55 hits, struck out 35 and walked 15 in 52 and two-thirds innings.

The Fisher Cats will likely face Doyle in Portland this week, perhaps on Tuesday. They open a three-game series at Portland on Monday night. On Twitter: @allenlessels

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