HARTFORD, April 23 – For the second straight night, late inning heroics carried the Hartford Yard Goats to a victory.
On Sunday, the Yard Goats scored four runs in the eighth inning to rally and complete a three-game sweep over the Harrisburg Senators with an 11-9 victory. Three times, Hartford erased three-run deficits.
On Monday night, it took 11 innings for the Yard Goats to secure their fourth straight victory. Hartford catcher Chris Rabago singled down the left field line in the bottom of the 11th inning to drive in Ryan Metzler from third base to lift the Yard Goats to a 4-3 Eastern League victory over the visiting Portland Sea Dogs.
It was the fourth straight win for Hartford (8-9), who have won eight of their last 11 games after a record-setting 0-6 start to the season.
“We were going to come out of our shell sooner or later,” Rabago said. “We have too much talent on this team and we have some great chemistry in this clubhouse.”
In March, Minor League Baseball changed the rules in extra innings to reduce the length of extra inning games. In extra innings, each inning begins with a runner on second base.
The rule was designed to reduce the number of pitchers used in extra inning contests and reduce the pressure on pitching staffs on following days after extra inning contests. That has led to the use of position players on the mound.
In the 11th inning, Hartford’s Ryan Metzler, the last out of the previous inning, began on second base. Omar Carrizales dropped down a sacrifice bunt that allowed Metzler to get to third base. Rabago ripped a line drive down the third base line allowing Metzler to score and win the game.
“It’s all about execution at that point of the ballgame,” Rabago said. Rabago was 2-for-5 with a double and two RBI. His RBI double in the fourth inning gave Hartford a 2-0 lead. The Yard Goats first run when Garrett Hampson doubled in the third inning, moved to third base on a single from Yonathan Daza (3-for-5) and scored on a sacrifice fly from Brendan Rodgers, the Eastern League’s player of the week last week.
Hampton has had at least one hit in eight consecutive games.
Logan Cozart earned his first Double-A victory, pitching two innings of relief. He was the sixth pitcher used by the Yard Goats, who received a stellar outing from starter Jack Wynkoop. The Hartford southpaw turned in his longest outing of the season with six innings of one-run baseball. He scattered five hits and did not walk a batter, striking out three.
Portland got on the board in the fifth inning on a sacrifice fly by Austin Rei and tied it in the ninth on another sacrifice fly by Tate Matheny, the son of St. Louis Cardinals’ manager Mike Matheny.
After Portland (6-10) scored a run in the 10th inning, the Yard Goats tied it in their half on Rodgers’ second sacrifice fly of the game. And once again Sturgeon made a spectacular catch, robbing Rodgers with a running catch against the 392-foot mark in center field.
The Yard Goats return to action on Tuesday night in game two of the three-game series against the Seadogs with first pitch at 7:05 p.m., at Dunkin’ Donuts Park.
NOTES: Rodgers was named Eastern League player of the week after beating .520 with four doubles, a home run and six RBI. He was 5-for-5 on Sunday against Harrisburg and has a seven-game hitting streak ongoing after getting a hit Monday night against the Seadogs. The crowd was announced at 3,056 but by the extra innings, the ballpark was sparse. … The Seadogs are the Boston Red Sox’s Double A affiliate. The Yard Goats are Colorado’s Double A affiliate.
Hartford 4, Portland 3
Portland (6-10) 000 010 001 10 – 3-8-2
Hartford (8-9) 001 100 000 11 — 4-9-0
Kevin McAvoy, Daniel McGrath (7), Adam Lau (9), Trevor Kelly (11) and Austin Rei; Jack Wynkoop, Jason Garcia (7), Max Schuh (8), Scott Griggs (8), Matt Pierpont (9), Logan Cozart (10) and Chris Rabago; WP: Cozart (1-1); LP: Kelly (0-1); H: Garcia 1, Griggs 2; 2B: Garrett Hampson (H), Rabago (H); Josh Tobias (P), Esteban Quiroz (P)