All had been going well for the Portland Sea Dogs during an eight-game winning streak that saw them take command of the Eastern League playoff race.
On a wet and gloomy Tuesday, they were reminded of what it looks like when the opposite happens.
The Binghamton Rumble Ponies used a strong pitching effort from José Chacín and three-run homers from Wyatt Young and Nic Gaddis to end the winning streak with a 10-2 win at Hadlock Field.
“It’s tough to win eight games in a row to begin with, and things happen,” Portland manager Chad Epperson said. “We couldn’t go out with our normal routine today, the weather gets you down a bit, low energy. But we have to be better.”
The winning streak was part of 10 wins in 11 games for the Sea Dogs (66-61, 36-22 in the second half), who went from a half-game behind Somerset for first place in the Eastern League Northeast Division to 2 1/ 2-game lead over the Patriots in second-half standings. During the surge, Portland outscored opponents 65-25 and topped six runs on six occasions.
The Sea Dogs have 11 games left, the last six at Somerset.
“We’ve done a really good job of getting ahead of hitters on the mound. We’re getting better at competition in the box and getting some timely hits,” Epperson said. “We put some crooked numbers on a lot of innings. It wasn’t like we were winning by one run.”
However, there was a change of roles on Tuesday. The struggling Rumble Ponies (51-74, 23-33 in the second half) controlled the game on a rainy night that kept all but the advertised 3,125 fans away. Binghamton took an early lead, getting a run in the first inning when Young singled through the gap between first and second base and scored on Luke Ritter’s single to right field.
The big damage, though, came in the fourth, an inning the Sea Dogs came within inches of escaping unscathed. Rowdey Jordan singled with one out up the middle and was running when Hayden Senger hit a ball back to the mound. Starter Sterling Sharp hit the ground ball well and threw to second baseman David Hamilton, who then went to first to catch Senger.
It would have been a double play late in the inning, but Hamilton was carried off the base, leaving Jordan on second with two out. Jeremy Vasquez doubled to right-center, scoring Jordan, and after a walk chased down Sharp and brought Dylan Spacket into the game, Young greeted him with a three-run homer to right for a 5-0 lead. .
“Sharp made a very athletic play, spinning and twisting. Maybe he was just a little high and out of range,” Epperson said. “But looking back, those plays I will take. Those are athletic plays.”
Portland scored in the fifth when Alex Binelas doubled with one out and Izzy Wilson followed with a deep double to right center field to make it 5-1, but Chacin (seven innings, six hits, seven strikeouts) limited the damage. . Binghamton made it 9-1 in a four-run eighth, the big hit: Gaddis’s three-run homer off the wall under the left-center field scoreboard.
Nick Northcutt scored on Ceddanne Rafaela’s sacrifice fly in the eighth. Jordan responded with a solo home run in the ninth.
“We still control our destiny. We know what we have to do,” Epperson said. “It’s exciting for these guys to be able to show up at this time of year with 11 games left and know they’re playing for something.”
Sports Digest: Sea Dogs keep rolling, win eighth in a row