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Fisher Cats on a roll

New Hampshire Union Leader

June 29. 2014 7:02PM
New Hampshire Fisher Cats Kevin Nolan is tagged out by New Britian Rock Cats catcher Matt Koch in the seventh inning at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester Sunday. The Fisher Cats won 3-2. (MARK BOLTON)

MANCHESTER — Daniel Norris didn’t pick up a victory Sunday, but he did make a significant contribution to the New Hampshire Fisher Cats’ 3-2 victory over New Britain — a victory that extended the team’s winning streak to a season-high six games.

Norris, a 21-year-old left-handed pitcher, held New Britain to three hits and one run in five innings. He struck out six, walked two and lowered his ERA to 3.31.

“As long as I can give us a chance to win,” Norris said. “That’s my job and I feel like I did that today. Mixed my pitches in pretty good. Fastball command was good, and it all starts with that.”

It was Norris’ third start with New Hampshire since being promoted from advanced Class A Dunedin, where he went 6-0 with a 1.22 ERA in 13 games. He has 25 strikeouts (six walks) and has allowed six runs in those three starts, which have covered 16⅓ innings.

Baseball America listed Norris, a second-round pick in 2011, as Toronto’s No. 6 prospect when the 2014 season began. He will represent the Blue Jays in the Futures Game on July 13 in Minnesota.

Norris said he was limited to 85 pitches Sunday. He was removed after 83.

“Sometimes the pitch count creeps up on you and you don’t even realize it,” he said.

The Fisher Cats (37-44) collected 10 hits in the game, including five consecutive singles in a two-run seventh inning that handed New Hampshire a 3-1 lead.

New Britain (41-38) pulled within a run in the ninth and had the tying run on second when Gregory Infante struck out shortstop Tony Thomas to end the game.

Tyler Ybarra (4-3) earned the win for pitching two innings of scoreless relief. New Britain’s Pat Dean, who pitched at Boston College, allowed three runs on nine hits in 6⅓ innings and took the loss.

Catcher Jack Murphy and shortstop Jorge Flores collected RBI singles in the two-run seventh. Designated hitter Andy Burns had three of New Hampshire’s 10 hits. Crouse and Flores each had two hits in the victory.

It was the first time Murphy has caught Norris since Norris was promoted to Double A.

“He has four plus pitches,” Murphy said. “He’s throwing his fastball at 92 to 95 (mph). He’s got a big breaking ball, a nice slider and a good changeup. Pretty much he can throw any pitch at any time. He has a good feel for his pitches.

“He’ll have five dominant innings, but he’s not as efficient as maybe he should be at this point. I’d like to see him pitch into the seventh on a regular basis, but that’s part of the development. He’s done a great job since he’s been here.”

The Fisher Cats opened the scoring when a two-out double by Crouse drove in Mike McDade in the fourth, but back-to-back doubles by Thomas and Mike Kvasnicka made it a 1-1 game in the top of the fifth.

The Fisher Cats have a 17-9 record in June, and will attempt to extend their winning streak when they begin a four-game series at Reading tonight.

“You have to give a lot of the credit to the pitchers,” Murphy said. “Pitching has been great and the hitting has been timely, which is the key to winning.”

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