HARTFORD, May 16 – Vince Fernandez hit a pair of home runs and reliever Ben Bowden nailed down his Eastern League-leading 13th save to lift the Hartford Yards Goats to their third straight win Thursday night with a 4-3 win over the New Hampshire Fisher Cats before 5,876 fans at Dunkin’ Donuts Park.
The win pushes Hartford (22-18) to a season-high four games over .500 and pulled the Yard Goats within two games of Trenton in the Eastern Division. Remember, the Yard Goats opened the season 1-6 and were 3-7 after 10 games.
Bowden, a left-handed reliever from Lynn, Mass., retired the side in order (1-2-3) for the second straight night to preserve the win for Jordan Foley, who pitched two scoreless innings.
Hartford snapped a 3-3 tie with an unearned run in the eighth inning. After Colton Welker reached on an error, Fernandez singled. Welker scored on Alan Trejo’s RBI-single to give the Yard Goats the lead for good.
It was Hartford’s ninth win in 12 games against New Hampshire (18-20), the defending EL champions. It’s a nice turnaround. A year ago, the Fisher Cats owned Hartford by winning 17 of 23 games between the two teams and winning all 11 games at Dunkin’ Donuts Park.
Fernandez had three hits and three RBI to pace Hartford’s 10-hit attack. Vizcaino and Trejo each had two hits. Kevin Smith and Christian Williams each had three hits for the Fisher Cats.
Hartford took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a two-run home run by Fernandez – a team-leading ninth home run — into the upper deck in right-center.
New Hampshire tied the game in the third on a walk to former Yard Goat Forrest Wall, an RBI-double by Smith and a run-scoring single by Chad Spanberger. The Fisher Cats took the 2-1 lead in the sixth on consecutive singles by Brock Lundquist, Riley Adams and Williams and a sacrifice fly by Nash Knight.
The Yard Goats promptly tied it in their half of the sixth on Fernandez’ second homer of the game and his 10th of the season, an opposite field, towering shot into the left field seats.
Despite a season-high four walks, Yard Goats starter Ty Culbreth turned in his second quality start. He yielded three runs on nine hits over six innings and struck out one. New Hampshire starter Hector Perez also turned in his second quality start – both against Hartford – allowing three runs on seven hits in six innings. He walked one and struck out three.
Game two of the four-game series is Friday at 7:05 PM. RHP Rico Garcia will pitch for the Yard Goats, while LHP Zach Logue pitches for New Hampshire.