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June 28. 2014 9:03PM

Nearly perfect, nearly deja vu for NH Fisher Cats' Lawrence


5/12/2014 The NH Fisher Cats hosted the Reading Fightin' Phils at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium Monday night.Fisher Cats pitcher Casey Lawrence delivers to a Reading batter. (Bruce Taylor/Union Leader)

MANCHESTER

IT WAS almost deja vu all over again.

New Hampshire Fisher Cats pitcher Casey Lawrence carried a perfect game into the seventh inning against New Britain at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium Friday night. It was the second game of a doubleheader, which meant the seventh inning would be the last one.

Lawrence retired the first two Rock Cats, but pinch hitter Mike Kvasnicka stroked a clean single into left field to spoil the perfect game. Lawrence got Kennys Vargas to fly out to end it and secure an 8-0 win.

"Close, but no cigar," Lawrence said. "That's the longest I've ever gone. (Jack Murphy) catching, me and him since 2010 have been pretty much inseparable. I just love when he catches. I probably haven't shaken him off since 2011. It's one of those things where I trust him so much. Whatever he sees and feels is what I'm going with."

So what's the deja vu? Well, almost 10 years ago to the day there was an eerily similar situation.

On June 28, 2004, at Gill Stadium during the Fisher Cats' first year, Maikel Jova won the first game of a doubleheader against New Britain with a walk-off home run. Friday night, Jon Berti doubled home Kenny Wilson to give New Hampshire a walk-off win in the eighth inning.

In the second game of that doubleheader back in 2004, Fisher Cats pitcher Jamie Vermilyea threw a seven-inning perfect game.

"That's fate, I guess," Lawrence said when told about the harmony. "It's one of those things."

Lawrence (4-4) said he noticed in the fourth inning that his teammates were suddenly staying away from him in the dugout, as is the baseball custom when a no-hitter or perfect game is in progress.

"(Dalton) Pompey normally sat beside me in the dugout every inning and I noticed he wasn't there," Lawrence said. "It's one of those things where you try not to think about it but it creeps in there no matter what."

Lawrence said he didn't think about the length of the game, either. A seven-inning perfect game would have been just fine.

"When I go out there and pitch I don't worry about how long the game is," he said. "I'm big on one pitch at a time and I kept telling myself that from the first inning to the seventh inning. Just execute one quality pitch at a time and whatever happens, happens."

BRIAN WILSON earned his first save as a Los Angeles Dodger Wednesday. One night later, the Londonderry native picked up his first win in Dodger blue.

Wilson worked one inning in each of those games and has quietly posted a strong season as a middle reliever with the Dodgers and it continues to get better. The eight-year veteran is 1-2 with 13 holds, one save, 32 strikeouts and an ERA of 4.82.

The bearded one has been steadily bringing his ERA down from a season-high of 15.75 back in mid-April. Wilson's June has been especially strong as he has not allowed an earned run in seven games while picking up five holds prior to the save and win this week.

Wilson's 34 appearances this year are more than he has been able to manage since 2011 when he appeared in 57 games with San Francisco. Early in the 2012 season, Wilson had to endure a second Tommy John surgery and was sidelined for more than a year.

After signing with Los Angeles in July of last year, Wilson began his comeback as a middle reliever.

CONWAY'S Jeff Locke was finally rewarded for a strong effort. After making three quality starts since being recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis on June 8, Locke picked up his first win of the year Tuesday night to even his record at 1-1.

Locke worked 7 1/3 innings, scattering eight hits, allowing three runs and striking out four in a 6-5 win over Tampa Bay. Locke had allowed no more than two runs and pitched at least six innings in his three previous starts, but didn't collect the win in any of them and left with the lead twice.

PITTSBURGH Pirates senior vice president and general manager Neal Huntington will be the guest speaker at the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension 4-H Teen Conference Tuesday.

Huntington, an Amherst native and former 4-H participant, kicks off UNH Cooperative Extension's Centennial Speaker Series at 7 p.m. in the Granite State Room of the Memorial Union Building. Huntington was raised on a family-owned and operated dairy farm.

Staff writer Ian Clark can be reached at iclark@unionleader.com.


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