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Home run in the ninth inning lifts Portland to July 4 victory over Yard Goats

Hartford’s All-Star outfielder Sam Hilliard had a home run, single and a stolen base in Wednesday night’s loss to Portland at Dunkin’ Donuts Park.

HARTFORD, July 4 – It’s been a long time since the Portland Sea Dogs have had a pinch hitter hit a home run – nine years.

With two outs in the top of the ninth inning, Portland’s Luke Tendler’s two-run pinch-hit home run into the upper deck in right-field propelled the Sea Dogs to a 7-5 Eastern League win over the Hartford Yard Goats, Wednesday, before another sellout crowd of 6,386 at Dunkin’ Donuts Park.

Hartford (41-42) threatened in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Winning pitcher Jordan Weems struck out Hartford’s Dom Nunez looking with the tying runs in scoring position to end the game and snap Hartford’s nine-game winning streak against the Sea Dogs. The Independence Day sellout was the ninth straight sellout at Dunkin’ Donuts Park and the sixteenth in the last 20 games.

Prior to the Independence Day contest, 50 Connecticut residents became American citizens in a pre-game ceremony on the field.

In a see-saw battle, a two-run single by Portland’s Tony Renda and an RBI single by Austin Rei gave Portland a 3-0 first inning lead and chased Yard Goats starting pitcher Jack Wynkoop.  The Yard Goats’ southpaw lasted 2/3 of an inning and allowed three runs on five hits with one walk.

After scoring a run in the first, Hartford took the lead in the third on an RBI-single by Brendan Rodgers, a run-scoring double by Roberto Ramos into the right-field corner and a sacrifice fly by Sam Hilliard.

After 3 1/3 scoreless innings of relief from Hartford’s Frank Duncan, reliever Mitch Horacek surrendered two runs in the sixth on a wild pitch and an RBI-single by Danny Mars to give the Sea Dogs a 5-4 advantage.

The Yard Goats tied it in the eighth at 5-5 against Adam Lau with a lead-off home run down the right-field line from Hilliard, but Weems entered with runners at the corners to extinguish the Hartford threat.

Hilliard led the Hartford 11-hit attack with a home run, single, stolen base and an RBI.  Ramos collected two doubles, a run scored and an RBI.  Mylz Jones added two singles.

Rei had three hits and an RBI and Renda two hits and two RBI to top the Portland (32-51) offense.

The Sea Dogs, the Double A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, pounded out 12 hits. Starter and former Red Sox second-round draft choice Teddy Stankiewicz threw a season-high 111 pitches in his 5 2/3 innings of work.  He allowed four runs on six hits, walked one and struck out four.

Shortstop Brendan Rodgers, outfielders Yonathan Daza, Hilliard and pitchers Peter Lambert, Matt Pierpont and  Mitch Horacek have been named to Eastern Division All-Star team. The six selections are tied for the most in the Eastern League. The 2018 Eastern League All-Star Game will take place on Wednesday, July 11 at 7 p.m., in Trenton, N.J.  Six of Hartford’s ten All-Star selections in 2016 and 2017 have reached the major leagues.

The game was the first of a five-game series in Hartford against the Sea Dogs.

Fifty state residents took the oath to become United States citizens in a pregame ceremony hosted by the Yard Goats and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal and Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin were part of the ceremony.

Residents from 22 nations and 31 Connecticut cities and towns were represented among the 50 residents taking the Oath of Allegiance. The naturalization ceremony included the Governor’s Foot Guard, national anthem, Oath of Allegiance, pledge of Allegiance, and the honorees received certificates acknowledging their United States citizenship.

“We are honored to have been a part of such a patriotic and moving naturalization ceremony today at Dunkin’ Donuts Park,” said Tim Restall, president of the Yard Goats, the Double A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies. “Baseball is America’s national pastime and what a better way to welcome in 50 new U.S. citizens than at a Yard Goats home game in Hartford.  Having the opportunity to host this event on America’s birthday is particularly special for our team.”

Since 2009, the Collinsville Press has been providing award-winning coverage of sports and news in the Farmington Valley and across Connecticut.

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