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June 30. 2013 11:27PM

Sea Dogs more than Fisher Cats could handle this weekend

MANCHESTER - The Fisher Cats some good swings, some good at-bats and good innings in back-to-back games against a couple of the top pitching prospects of the Boston Red Sox on Saturday and Sunday.

Lot of good it did them in the standings.

They gave former UConn standout Matt Barnes fits early and late on Saturday night and did much the same to Anthony Ranaudo, the 6-foot-7 and 250-pounder who may well be pitching for Triple-A Pawtucket by the time the Sea Dogs stop back here in two weeks.

They had little to show for their success.

The Sea Dogs won Saturday night's game, 7-5, in front of a season's-best crowd of 7,664 at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium and Sunday's 13-5 triumph in front of 6,353.

"The last time we saw (Ranaudo) we didn't do anything off him," said New Hampshire manager Gary Allenson. "His command wasn't as good as the last time we saw him. But give credit to the hitters, too."

The Fisher Cats collected more hits (nine) off Ranaudo than anyone had in his other 14 starts this year.

They made him work hard for his eighth win of the season. He rebounded from only his second lost in his last outing against Binghamton.

"Baseball' a funny game," said Ranaudo. "The last time I went out and gave up one earned run and got the loss. Today I give up five earned runs in five innings and get the win."

New Hampshire's challenge was good for his big righty, said Sea Dog manager Kevin Boles.

"You learn a lot in some of these outings," he said. "You have to grind it through. You have to pitch out of the stretch and maintain your stuff through the stretch and I think he did a real nice job of that."

Kevin Nolan's sacrifice brought in the first run for the Fisher Cats in the bottom of the second inning and Kevin Ahrens followed with a two-run homer to left field that put New Hampshire up 3-2.

Ranaudo was sitting around 92-93 miles per hour with his fastball, according to the Delta Dental speed clock, and he struck out the first two batters he faced in the first inning and got the third on a grounder to shortstop.

"He carved us up in the first inning and the next thing you know we take a 3-2 lead," Allenson said. "But it was short-lived, to say the least. He's got some pretty good stuff.

Ranaudo allowed only a walk through the third and fourth innings and the Fisher Cats got to him again in the fifth.

Adam Loewen, Andy Burns and A.J. Jimenez all singled to load the bases with no outs and Brad Glenn doubled off the wall down the left to score two runs.

Ranaudo got a pop fly out to third out of Ryan Schimpf and waked Nolan to load the bases again.

He then struck out Ahrens and Jack Murphy to end the inning and his day.

"I gave up a few hits, but I think I pitched well in the clutch, even though I gave up a few runs," Ranaudo said. "It was good way to finish the outing."

It was a tough way for the Fisher Cats to finish the weekend.

They won their season-high sixth straight game and pulled to within a game of .500 and within a half-game of Portland in the standings with a 5-4 triumph in the opener of the four-game set on Thursday night.

The Sea Dogs responded with three straight wins.

New Hampshire went 11-15 for June, matching its month of April. The Fisher Cats were 17-13 in May.

They open July with a quick three-game road-trip that begins in New Britain tonight. The Fisher Cats and Rock Cats are both 39-43.

The Fisher Cats are back here on Thursday, the Fourth of July. They open a five-game series against Binghamton that night.




alessels@unionleader.com

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