HARTFORD, June 8 – Former UConn pitching star Anthony Kay and three relievers combined to limit the Hartford Yard Goats to just three hits and pitched a shutout to lead the Binghamton Mets to a 1-0 Eastern League victory over the Yard Goats Saturday before a sellout crowd of 6,850 at Dunkin’ Donuts Park.
Hartford (35-25) hitters fanned 14 times in the game and missed an opportunity to take over sole possession of first place in the Eastern Division. The Yard Goats are in the middle of a tight four-team race for a berth in the Eastern League playoffs.
With a split season, the winner of the Eastern Division in the first half of the season faces the winner in the second half. If the same team wins both halves of the season, the playoff berth goes to the team with the best full season record.
With eight games left in the first half of the season, Hartford is tied with Trenton (33-23) for first place with Reading (33-24) a half game behind and Binghamton (32-24) a full game off the pace.
Kay, selected in the first round of the 2016 draft, retired the first 10 batters he faced, before pitching out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth inning, getting a fly out to left, following a walk, line out and singles by Hartford’s Alan Trejo and Willie Abreu.
The southpaw gave up a lead off double to Hartford’s Brian Serven in the fifth inning, before retiring the next three batters to get out of the jam. He was lifted, after surrendering a one-out walk in the sixth. Kay pitched 5 1/3 scoreless innings, scattering three hits. He walked two and struck out nine in registering his seventh win (7-3), tying him with Hartford’s Rico Garcia for the Eastern League lead in victories.
Rumble Ponies relievers Adonis Uceta, Ryley Gilliam and Matt Blackham combined to retire all 11 batters they faced, Blackham striking out the last two Hartford batters for his fifth save.
Yard Goats starter Ty Culbreth turned in solid performance, allowing one unearned run in five innings. He permitted two hits, one walk and struck out five, including striking out the side in the first inning. Relievers Jordan Foley, Mitch Horacek and Alexander Guillen combined to shut out the Rumble Ponies.
Binghamton scored in the fourth inning against the normally sure-fielding Hartford defense.
Culbreth hit Binghamton’s Barrett Barnes with a pitch with one out. Barnes moved to second on a ground out and took third on an errant pick-off throw by Culbreth. An error by third baseman Colton Welker on a ground ball by Mike Paez, enabled Barnes to score the game’s only run.
It was Hartford’s third 1-0 loss of the year.
The deciding game of the three-game series and the finale of the home stand is Sunday afternoon at 1:05. RHP Rico Garcia goes for his 8th victory for Hartford.
Welker boosts Hartford into first place
HARTFORD, June 7 – The Yard Goats moved into first place in the Eastern Division for the first time in over three years with a 7-4 win over Binghamton on Friday before another sellout crowd. Colton Welker hit a home run, doubled and had four RBI to lead Hartford, which moved into the first place for the first time since May 14, 2016.
Playing as the “Steamed Cheeseburgers,” Hartford (35-24) climbed to a season-high 11-games over .500 and took a half game lead over Trenton, who slipped into second place after losing to Erie.
Tied at 4-4, Hartford erupted for three runs in the seventh against Binghamton reliever Joe Zanghi, who grew up in Milford. Hartford’s Bret Boswell began the rally with an infield hit. Chris Rabago followed with a single. Mylz Jones then ripped a run-scoring single to left to snap the tie.
After a sacrifice bunt by Manny Melendez and a strike out, Welker knocked home two runs with a double to left-center past diving center-fielder Quinn Brodey.
Hartford starting pitcher Brandon Gold pitched six innings, allowing three runs on seven hits. He walked one and struck out five. Reliever Heath Holder picked up his fourth win (4-1), permitting one run in the seventh inning on two hits. Logan Cozart and Justin Lawrence each pitched a scoreless inning to close out the game.
Gold also helped out at the plate, hitting his second home run of the season. The Yard Goats are the Double A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies and Binghamton is the Double A affiliate of the New York Mets. When two National League teams meet, there is no designated hitter in the game and pitchers take their turns at the plate.