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Rodgers hits 17th home run but Portland hands Yard Goats fourth straight loss

Hartford shortstop Brendan Rodgers hit his team-leading 17th home run of the season Friday night at Dunkin’ Donuts Park but Portland was still able to beat the Yard Goats, 5-3.

HARTFORD, July 6 – Hartford Yard Goats shortstop Brendan Rodgers hit his team-leading 17th home run of the season Friday night at Dunkin’ Donuts Park but it wasn’t enough as the visiting Portland Sea Dogs handed the Yard Goats their fourth straight loss with a 5-3 decision in Eastern League play.

Rodgers has been on a roll. He was recently one of six Yard Goats to be named to represent the Eastern Division at the upcoming Eastern League All-Star Game and on Friday was selected to play in the All-Star Futures Game for Team USA for the second straight season.

The Futures Game will be Sunday, July 15 at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. and will feature 19 of the top 100 prospects in Minor League Baseball, including Rodgers, who is the No. 6 prospect. Yard Goats pitcher Jesus Tinoco (5-7, 5.46 ERA) was also selected to play in the game on the World team. Tinoco, a 6-foot-4 righthander from Venezuela, has 78 strikeouts in 87 innings in 16 games.

Rodgers is hitting .277 for the Yard Goats and leads the team in home runs (17), RBI (58), doubles (21) and shares the team lead for triples (2). His 17 home runs is No. 2 in the Eastern League behind New Hampshire’s Cavan Biggio, who has 18.

Rodgers had a two-run home run in the sixth inning of Friday night’s loss to the Sea Dogs. That cut the Portland lead to two runs, 5-3. Two additional singles from the Yard Goats loaded the bases but Portland starting pitcher Kyle Hart struck out two men to end the threat.

Trey Ball, a first round draft pick of the Boston Red Sox (2013), came on in relief for the Sea Dogs, the Red Sox’s Double A affiliate, and retired six of the next seven batters he faced. Teammate Jordan Weems tossed a perfect ninth inning to secure the win for Portland (34-51).

Hart (6-5), who struck out a season-high eight, allowed three runs on seven hits.  He walked one.

Hartford first baseman Roberto Ramos gave the Yard Goats (41-44) an early 1-0 advantage with a home run into the upper deck in right-center, his seventh in 14 games as a Yard Goat.

Portland (34-51) tied the contest in the second inning with an unearned run and took the lead for good in the third with runs scoring on an error and Tony Renda’s RBI-double.  Renda, who has six RBI and six hits in the series, also delivered an RBI double in the fifth, before Jordan Betts increased the lead to 5-1 with a sixth-inning home run.

Yard Goats starting pitcher Ryan Castellani suffered the loss, allowing four runs – two unearned – on three hits.  He walked four and struck out six.

Brian Mundell and Mylz Jones each had two hits for Hartford, the Double A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies.

Game four of the five-game series is Saturday at Dunkin’ Donuts Park. Friday night’s game was played before the 26th sellout of the season at Dunkin’ Donuts Park.  It was also the ninth time this season the ballpark has reached capacity.  Hartford has drawn 259,639 this year.

NOTES: The Eastern League All-Star Game will be Wednesday, July 11 at 7 p.m. in Trenton, N.J. Rodgers, outfielder Yonathan Daza, outfielder Sam Hilliard, pitcher Peter Lambert, closer Matt Pierpont and pitcher Mitch Horacek have been named to Eastern Division All-Star team.  The six selections are tied for the most in the Eastern League.

Lambert, who was recently promoted to Triple A Albuquerque and won his first game with his new team, was 8-2 with a 2.23 ERA with the Yard Goats. In the Eastern League, he had 75 strikeouts and just 12 walks in 92 innings of work.

Lambert, who turned 21 in April and was the youngest player on the Yard Goats, was named the Eastern League player of the month for June. He was 5-0 with a 1.16 ERA in five starts for Hartford in June. Lambert is just the third Yard Goat pitcher to receive a win in five straight games. He is the third Yard Goat to win the Eastern League’s player of the month award. Infielder Ryan McMahon (April 2017) and outfielder Noel Cuevas (July 2016) also won the award.

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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