MANCHESTER – New Hampshire got strong pitching performances and plenty of offense to take both games of a doubleheader with Reading in front of 5,071 fans at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium Friday night.
Scott Copeland threw seven strong innings to lead the Fisher Cats (54-59) to a 5-2 win in the first game and Austin Bibens-Dirkz pitched six solid innings to earn the win in the nightcap, 9-2. The teams play again tonight at 7:05.
Copeland improved to 7-7 on the season by scattering six hits, striking out nine and allowing one earned run in the complete game win.
The Fisher Cats took a 1-0 lead on a solo home run from K.C. Hobson (his fifth of the year) in the second inning. New Hampshire pushed the lead to 5-0 with a four-run outburst in the fourth frame.
Andy Burns got things started with a single, then stole second base and advanced to third on a high throw from catcher Raywilly Gomez. Corey Aldridge singled past first base to score Burns and Hobson reached on a fielder’s choice when first baseman Brock Stassi threw the ball away trying for second base. Aldridge went to third on the play and scored when Michael Crouse singled to make it 3-0.
Andy Fermin loaded the bases with a single. Jorge Flores struck out, but Jon Berti was hit by a pitch to push Hobson home for a 4-0 score. Derrick Chung hit a deep fly ball to center field to score Crouse with the fourth run of the inning.
Copeland worked out of a jam in the fifth when the Fightin Phils (46-65) loaded the bases on a Stassi single, Zach Collier double and Gomez walk. Copeland struck out Albert Cartwright to end the threat and keep the zero on the Reading side of the board.
Reading broke through in the sixth, however. Jake Fox drew a walk and Aaron Altherr singled to right-center where Fisher Cats rightfielder Aldridge mishandled it, allowing Fox to score and Altherr to reach second. Stassi following with a double to score Altherr to cut the lead to 5-2. Copeland recovered to fan Collier to close the inning.
The Phils threatened again in the seventh when Gomez doubled with one out, but Copeland struck out Cartwright and induced a fly ball to left field from Carlos Alonso to end the game.
In the second game, New Hampshire plated a pair in the second to take a 2-0 lead. Designated hitter Yusuf Carter singled with one out and moved to second base on Fermin’s single. Fermin was picked off first, but Crouse reached on an error to make it runners on the corners. On a hit-and-run with Crouse on the move, Flores drove a double into left field to score both runners.
The Fisher Cats added three runs in the third. Burns singled with one out and Mike McDade was hit by a pitch. Jack Murphy singled to score Burns and Fermin followed a Carter strikeout with a two-run double to center to make it 5-0.
Reading scored two in the top of the fourth to cut into the lead. Kelly Dugan led off with a double and Fox walked. Altherr reached on an error from third baseman Burns that allowed Dugan to score. K.C. Serna’s fly ball to center moved Fox over to third and Peter Lavin singled him home before Bibens-Dirkx (4-2) induced a double play to end the inning.
New Hampshire added four insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth when Burns singled to score Crouse and Flores (both of whom singled) and McDade singled home Berti (who had walked) and Burns to make it 9-2.
Gregory Infante came on to pitch the seventh for the Fisher Cats, allowing a leadoff hit to Lavin but getting a double play ball from Edgar Duran. Logan Moore drew a walk, but Infante got Alonso to pop out to end the game.