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Fisher Cats drop homestand opener
MANCHESTER — The first-place Fisher Cats faced one of the Eastern League’s top strikeout pitchers in their first home game since the All-Star break.
They didn’t fare well.
Reading’s Austin Hyatt, among four pitchers with 100-plus punchouts, fanned 10 Fishers Monday night at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium. The tally brought Hyatt’s K count to 119, and helped the Philadelphia Phillies’ Double-A affiliate defeat the Fishers, 3-2.
The R-Phils won their third straight and pulled within 3 ½ games of the Fishers, who announced a paid attendance of 3,694.
“I just tried to get ahead with fastballs and finish off-speed,” Hyatt said. “Me and (catcher Tuffy Gosewisch) were on the same page all night and it worked real well.”
Considered by “Baseball America” to own the best changeup in Philadelphia’s farm system, Hyatt (8-5) threw seven innings. He allowed one run on four hits.
The 6-foot 3-inch, 205-pound All-Star — Philly’s 15th-round selection in the 2009 draft — never struck out the side. But he notched at least one strikeout in every frame.
“I’ve played (against) him the last two years. The changeup is his best pitch,” said Fishers center fielder Anthony Gose, who went 2-for-4. “It moves out and away from hitters. It’s a good pitch.”
Hyatt was touched for one run in the fourth. Consecutive hits pulled the Fishers (53-41) within 2-1.
Mike McDade started the inning with an opposite-field double to deep left-center. He motored home moments later when Travis d’Arnaud (2-for-4, two RBI) singled to center.
Hyatt, however, avoided further damage. He stranded two runners, inducing a flyout by Callix Crabbe and soft inning-ending grounder from Jonathan Diaz.
But the R-Phils (50-45) responded in a blink.
Freddy Galvis slapped a one-out double down the left-field line in the fifth. Matt Rizzotti pulled a run-scoring single to right that produced Reading’s second two-run lead and eventual winning hit.
A solid relay on Carlos Rivero’s two-out double erased Rizzotti at the plate. Gose fired to Diaz, whose throw settled in d’Arnaud’s mitt well ahead of Reading’s slugger.
Joel Carreno (7-7) issued a pair of walks in the first inning. Both free passes by the Fishers starter, who K’d six over six innings, turned into runs for the visitors.
Stephen Susdorf’s single scored Galvis, whose base on balls opened the game. Derrick Mitchell’s hit delivered Rizzotti, who also reached via walk.
“Every game in our division is important because everybody’s close,” said Fishers manager Sal Fasano, whose team is 2-4 since the All-Star Game. “We can’t let too many series slip away.”
GAME 2 of this three-game series matches Fisher Cats righthander Chad Jenkins (2-2, 4.02) against Reading righty J.C. Ramirez (7-9, 4.22). First pitch at the ballpark tonight is 7:05.