Rock Cats spoil New Hampshire’s homecoming

12 Apr

MANCHESTER, N.H. – The rain clouds hung overhead like a heavy blanket, but managed to not be part of the Opening Day festivities at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium on Thursday night, and after the Fisher Cats raised their 2011 Eastern League Championship banner, it was time to get down to business.

Unfortunately for New Hampshire, Rock Cats pitcher Jason Marquis was more than ready to rain on their parade, as New Britain won 5-3 to spoil the Fisher Cats homecoming.

Marquis was dominant as he cruised through 8 innings of work, allowing only 2 run on 5 hits and no walks while striking out 7.

“Marquis pitched very well,” said Fisher Cats manager Sal Fasano. “For a lot of our guys it’s nice to see a big league guy and how they’re going to approach him in the batter’s box. He’s in the big leagues for a reason.”

Fisher Cats starter Chad Jenkins tried to keep pace with Marquis and was doing just that, even in the face of a Deibinson Romero second inning home run that landed in the Sam Adams Bar & Grill patio. Romero cranked a 1-1 pitch for his first homer of the season.

Jenkins made it look easy in the top of the third, retiring the side on eight pitches, but again grooved a pitch that Aaron Hicks punished over the right field fences and across the street behind the stadium. It was the center fielder’s third home run of the season, making the score 2-0 after four innings.

The skies opened up in the sixth inning, as did the Rock Cats, who took advantage of two wild pitches from Jenkins, which allowed Evan Bigley to score on a sacrifice fly to center by Hicks (2 for 3, 2 RBI).

Romero then launched his second of the night into the patio in left field, a two-run shot that spread the lead out to 5-0 after six innings.

“He did only make a couple of mistakes and he paid for them,” said Fasano of Jenkins outing. “I thought he pitched very well actually. He got on top of the ball, was commanding very well and I thought his slider was better tonight than we’ve seen since last year.”

The Fisher Cats finally got on the board in the bottom half of the sixth when Justin Jackson (3 for 3, 2 SB) got a double then advanced to third on a stolen base and scored on a sac fly from Jon Diaz.

“You make adjustments and improvise,” said Marquis of dealing with the rain. “The hole from myself and [Jenkins], we landed in the same spot, so as the innings got on it got deeper and a little more slick. The cold never affected me.”

The only other blemish on Marquis’ came off the bat of Koby Clemens who jacked a cutter to the deepest part of the ball park for his first home run in a Fisher Cats uniform.

The Fisher Cats would then plate a run in the eighth and ninth innings but it was too little too late as Deolis Guerra closed the door on the night for his first save of the season.

Marquis is now set to join up with the Minnesota Twins in the coming days and is expected to pick up a start for the big club during their upcoming series against the New York Yankees.

“That was the plan [to make two starts in AA],” said Marquis. “They wanted to see arm strength, durability, sharpness of pitches to make sure that when I do step on a big league field I’m ready to go mentally and physically.”

The two teams meet back at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium for game two of their four games series Friday night at 5:05 p.m. Steve Hirschfeld (1-0, 3.60) gets the start for New Britain (5-3) and New Hampshire (3-4) will counter with Deck McGuire (0-1, 14.40).

Craig Forde

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