ERIE, Pa., June 16 – Two errors led to four unearned runs and the Erie Seawolves beat the Hartford Yard Goats, 5-3 in a rain-shortened Eastern League game Sunday to put a crimp in Hartford’s bid for an EL playoff spot.
The game was cut to 5½ innings due to rain and the second game of the doubleheader was cancelled. With wins by Reading and Trenton on Sunday, the Yard Goats fall one game behind in the race for the first half Eastern Division title with one game remaining.
The EL has a split season this year with the leaders in the Eastern and Western Division earning a spot in September’s playoffs. The first half of the season ends on Tuesday.
If Hartford (37-29) can beat Bowie on Tuesday night at Dunkin’ Donuts Park and Trenton and Reading lose, the Yard Goats will be contention to win the first half title depending on several tiebreakers.
Erie beat Hartford ace pitcher Rico Garcia, who lost for just the second time this season. Garcia (8-2) pitched just one inning and gave up two hits and two walks. He fanned two. He threw 36 pitches.
With two outs and runners on first and second base, Hartford center fielder Manny Melendez dropped a fly ball off the bat of Erie’s Josh Lester and both runners scored to give the SeaWolves a 2-1 lead.
Erie extended their lead to 4-1 in the second inning with another two unearned runs when a fielding error by first baseman Tyler Nevin kept the inning alive. Jose Azocar’s two-out, two-run single off reliever Rayan Gonzalez extended the lead to three runs.
Erie’s Issac Paredes made it 5-1 in the fifth inning with a home run.
Hartford tried to rally in the top of the sixth inning. Colton Welker singled with one out and Willie Abreu was hit by a pitch. With two outs, Scott Burcham ripped a two-out, two-run double off the left field wall that just missed being a home run to cut the lead to 5-3.
The umpires called the game after a 30-minute rain delay.
Hartford took a 1-0 lead in the first inning thanks to a leadoff double from Manny Melendez, a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly from Nevin.
The Yard Goats open a six-game homestand on Tuesday against Bowie with a playoff berth on the line. Lefthander Jack Wynkoop is scheduled to start for Hartford.
If Hartford doesn’t secure a playoff berth on Tuesday night, they will have the opportunity to win the second half of the season to earn a Eastern League playoff berth.
Eastern League Eastern Division
Erie 5, Hartford 3 (6), rain
Hartford at Erie, game 2, cancelled, rain
Reading 2, Harrisburg 1
Trenton 4, Bowie 3
Bowie at Hartford, 7 p.m.
Richmond at Trenton
Altoona at Reading
(First half of season complete)