MANCHESTER – New Hampshire Fisher Cats pitcher Casey Lawrence got within one out of an abbreviated perfect game in an 8-0 win over New Britain Friday night in front of 6,197 fans at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium.
Lawrence (4-4) only got to pitch seven innings since the game was part of a doubleheader.
Pinch hitter Mike Kvasnicka broke up the perfection bid with a clean single into left field. Lawrence got Kennys Vargas to fly out to center to end the game.
New Hampshire won the first game 3-2 on a walk-off hit from Jon Berti.
Friday’s situation was eerily similar to something that happened 10 years ago almost to the day. On June 28, 2004 at Gill Stadium, the Fisher Cats won the first game of a doubleheader against New Britain on a walk-off home run from Maikel Jova and then New Hampshire pitcher Jamie Vermilyea threw a seven-inning perfect game in the nightcap.
In the second game, New Hampshire took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning. Matt Newman drew a one-out walk and advanced to third base on an errant pickoff throw from pitcher Mark Hamburger. Mike McDade followed with a single up the middle to score Newman.
The Fisher Cats added two runs in the fifth off reliever Daniel Turpen for a 3-0 lead. Jack Murphy singled up the middle and Dalton Pompey was hit by a pitch after Jorge Flores flied out to right. Berti singled up the middle to score Murphy and Newman singled into right field to plate Pompey. McDade drew a walk to load the bases, but Andy Burns flied out to left to end the inning.
New Hampshire added an insurance run in the sixth. Cory Aldridge led off with a single, Kenny Wilson struck out and Murphy singled into right field to place runners on the corners. Flores singled into center field to score Aldridge for the 4-0 lead.
Jim Fuller came on to replace Turpen and was greeted by an RBI single from Newman to make it 5-0. McDade drew a walk to force home another run for the 6-0 lead. Burns drew another walk to push the lead to 7-0. A wild pitch brought Newman in with the eighth and final run.
Berti’s opposite field double in the bottom of the eighth inning scored Wilson with the winning run to give the Fisher Cats a 3-2 win in the early game. It was a walk-off victory, coming in the eighth inning. New Hampshire had trailed 2-0 in the game and 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh.
Wilson dropped a bunt single down the third base line with one out in the eighth to set the table for Berti. The second baseman then stroked a pitch down the right field line and Wilson was being waved all the way around, coming in to score easily.
Reliever Tyler Ybarra picked up the win, working just one inning to improve to 3-3. Cole Johnson (1-4) got the loss for New Britain.
Back from his three-game suspension, McDade homered to deep center field in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game at 2-2 and force extra innings. McDade’s home run was his fourth of the season and led off the inning. Derrick Chung doubled with two outs, but Johnson got the last out to leave the score tied 2-2.
New Britain took a 2-0 lead in the top of the fourth off Fisher Cats starter Radhames Liz. Reynaldo Rodriguez hit a two-out double to left field and Aaron Hicks followed with a walk. Tony Thomas drilled a double off the center field wall to plate both runners.
The Fisher Cats got a run back in the home half of the fifth. Burns led off with a single past shortstop and moved to second base on K.C. Hobson’s slow roller to shortstop. Chung’s fly to right field moved Burns to third and he scored when Kevin Nolan reached on an error at third base to make it 2-1.
Notes: There were numerous roster moves for the Fisher Cats Friday. Pitcher Austin Bibens-Dirkx was promoted to Buffalo, outfielder Jonathan Jones was placed on the temporary inactive list, outfielder Dalton Pompey was received from Dunedin, outfielder/first baseman Cory Aldridge was signed to a minor league contract and assigned to New Hampshire and pitcher Arik Sikula was activated off the suspended list after the first game of the doubleheader.