HARTFORD, July 27 – It was another sellout crowd at Dunkin’ Donuts Park on Friday night and the Hartford Yard Goats were honoring the long-lost Hartford Whalers.
But this was a night for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats to walk away with the biggest grins. The visiting Fisher Cats, the Double A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays hit three home runs as New Hampshire beat the Yard Goats for the 14th time in 16 meetings this year with a 3-1 Eastern League victory.
Yard Goats starting pitcher Rico Garcia struck out seven and gave up six hits. But three were home runs to New Hampshire’s Vladumir Guerrero, Jr., Bo Bichette and Conor Panas. Hartford relievers Sean Nolin, Logan Cozart and Matt Pierpont then retired nine of the 10 batters they faced, but it was not enough to stop first place New Hampshire (58-44).
New Hampshire starter Jordan Romano notched his Eastern League leading 10th victory, pitching five innings and holding Hartford (49-53) to one unearned run on three hits. He walked one and struck out six.
Fisher Cat relievers Kirby Snead, Dusty Isaacs and Travis Bergen then slammed the door on the Goats, with six of the last seven Yard Goats batters retired on strikeouts.
Hartford (49-53), which lost for the fourth straight time, scored its only run on a sacrifice fly by Roberto Ramos and was 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position, as New Hampshire pitching held the Goats to five hits.
Bichette, the only player in the game to garner two hits, had a double to go with his home run for New Hampshire.
The Yard Goats played in front of a capacity crowd of 6,850 – the 31st sellout of the season and the sixth sellout in the last seven games. Hartford played in their special hockey style jerseys in honor of the Whalers.
Twenty different Whalers are back in town for Whalers Alumni Weekend hosted by the Yard Goats. A weekend luncheon will be held Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with former Whalers Dave Babych, Mark Janssens, Bob Crawford and Blaine Stoughton scheduled to appear along with other former Whalers. Long-time Whaler and Hall of Fame broadcaster Chuck Kaiton will also be at the event.
There will be a pre-game autograph session with the former Whalers on Saturday night when the gates open before the game against the Fisher Cats.