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Home run in 10th inning lifts Yard Goats to win over Portland

HARTFORD, July 30, 2022 – After two straight losses, the Hartford Yard Goats beat the Portland Sea Dogs on Saturday night with a thrilling swing of the bat.

Hartford’s Aaron Schunk hit a walk-off, three-run home run in the bottom of the tenth inning to lift the Yard Goats to a thrilling 7-5 Eastern League win over another sellout crowd at Dunkin’ Donuts Park. It was the eighth straight sellout crowd for the Goats.

The game was tied 3-3 after nine innings and in extra innings, the inning begins with a runner on second base. Portland (47-48, 17-9 second half) took a two-run lead thanks to a home run from Hudson Potts to left centerfield.

Hartford (58-36, 15-10 second half) didn’t go down quietly in the bottom of the 10th against Sea Dogs reliever Ryan Fernandez.

Hartford’s Isaac Collins was the placed runner at second. Collins advanced to third on a fly ball from Hunter Stovall. Kyle Datres lined a base hit into right and scored Collins, cutting the Sea Dogs lead down to 5-4. Grant Lavigne singled before Schunk followed with his majestic blast into the center field seats to give Hartford the 7-5 victory. It was Schunk’s tenth home run of the season.

Yard Goats pitching struck out a season-high 18 batters in the win, and starter Noah Davis struck out a season-high 10 Sea Dogs through six innings. Datres tallied two more hits for Hartford, extending his hitting streak to 12 games.

Portland jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning on an RBI double by Potts off Hartford’s starter, Noah Davis. Potts was 3-for-5 with three RBI including a two-run homer.

The Yard Goats tied up the game in the second when Michael Toglia blasted a solo shot to the right field porch seats off Portland’s starter, Brian Van Belle. The switch-hitter’s 20th longball of the season tied up the game 1-1.

The Sea Dogs grabbed the lead in the fifth on a two-run homer by Christian Koss. The Yard Goats responded in the bottom of the frame when Isaac Collins lined an RBI single to score Brenton Doyle. Hartford’s second baseman cut Portland’s lead to 3-2.

Hartford’s bats tied up the ballgame 3-3 in the sixth. Kyle Datres stepped up and cracked a solo homer to right field off Van Belle. The blast was the eighth of the season for Datres.

On Friday night, Portland’s Ceddanne Rafaela reached base five times, going 4-for-4 with a home run and two RBI, as the Sea Dogs locked down a 7-6 win. In his third major league rehabilitation appearance, Red Sox relief pitcher Matt Barnes pitched one inning, allowing one hit and one run while walking one. He picked up the win.

The two teams conclude this week’s series with a game on Sunday beginning at 1 p.m. in Hartford.

Portland holds a 1½ game lead over the Yard Goats in the race for the Northeast Division title in the second half of the season. The winner of the second half earns a spot in September’s Eastern League playoffs against Somerset, who beat the Yard Goats by a game to win the first half title.

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 40 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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