New England native Thomas Pannone makes debut with Fisher CatsBy ALEX HALL
New Hampshire Union Leader
August 06. 2017 11:55PM
MANCHESTER — After the 2017 Eastern League All-Star Game concluded, Thomas Pannone did not expect to be back at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium again this season.
That was before the Cleveland Indians dealt the left-handed pitcher to the Toronto Blue Jays at the trade deadline, however.
Cleveland sent Pannone, 23, and second baseman Samad Taylor to Toronto in exchange for Blue Jays right-hander Joe Smith on July 31. Pannone, a Cranston, R.I., native, was assigned to New Hampshire last Thursday, becoming the lone New Englander on the team’s roster.
“I was definitely excited about it,” Pannone said of the trade. “I got traded for a big-leaguer. That’s pretty cool ... I knew I was coming back to New England and had the chance to play in front of my family and friends a couple more times so that was cool.”
Pannone made his first impression on the Fisher Cats fan base Sunday in New Hampshire’s 5-0 loss to the Richmond Flying Squirrels in Game 1 of a doubleheader. The Fisher Cats (46-67) won the second game, 5-3.
Pannone, a Bishop Hendricken of Warwick, R.I, graduate, had about 15 friends and family members among the crowd of 6,405 fans cheering him on Sunday. Pannone (6-2) took the loss after allowing five earned runs on six hits and three walks alongside six strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings.
New Hampshire mustered just two hits, did not draw a walk and went down in order in four innings in Game 1.
Richmond left-hander Matt Lujan (3-3) earned the win after pitching five scoreless innings. He allowed two hits and no walks and struck out three batters.
Richmond (49-63) scored all of its runs off Pannone via the long ball. Former major leaguer Jerry Sands belted a two-run home run to right field in the first inning to open the game’s scoring. The Flying Squirrels capped the game’s scoring following Daniel Carbonell’s three-run shot over the center field wall in the top of the fourth inning.
“I felt pretty good. Just left some pitches over the middle of the plate and paid for it,” Pannone said. “Overall, I haven’t thrown in eight days so you don’t want to look too deep into it but I felt good and happy I got that one out of the way.”
Pannone had a 6-1 record and a 2.62 ERA over 14 starts with the Akron RubberDucks before the trade. He also went 2-0 over 27 2/3 scoreless innings with Advanced-A Lynchburg (Va.) before joining Akron on May 5.
Pannone pitched a 1-2-3 third inning for the Western All-Stars in their 7-1 loss to the Eastern All-Stars on July 12.
With less than a month left in the season, Pannone is looking to finish strong while playing in front of family and friends a bit more often.
“The season has been going really well,” Pannone said. “I’ve thrown a lot of really good games and even my games I don’t feel my best, I’ve figured out ways to pitch good in those games. The ball can’t always bounce my way.”
In Game 2’s 5-3 win, the Fisher Cats finally got their bats going and received a strong outing from Sean Reid-Foley en route to victory.
New Hampshire recorded all of its runs over the first four innings and tallied 13 hits overall.
“We kind of handed (Richmond) the first game there so it was nice to come out with the bats in the second game,” New Hampshire manager Gary Allenson said. “We scored five (runs). We could’ve scored nine.”
Anthony Alford broke a 3-3 tie in the third inning with a double to center field that brought home Richard Urena, who led off the frame with a single. Urena drove in Emilio Guerrero on a bloop single to left field one inning later to cap the game’s scoring.
Reid-Foley improved to 8-9 with the win. The right-hander allowed two earned runs on seven hits and one walk alongside five strikeouts over six innings. Reliever Carlos Ramirez earned the save after allowing no runs and two hits and striking out two in the seventh inning.
Richmond knotted the score at 3-3 in the top of the third. Sands tied the game with a one-out RBI single to left field.
The Fisher Cats took a 3-1 lead into the third inning after a two-run second frame. Reese McGuire broke a 1-1 tie when he ripped an RBI double to right center field. Gunnar Heidt gave New Hampshire a two-run cushion with his RBI single up the middle.
Sands opened the scoring with a solo home run to right center field in the first inning. New Hampshire tied the game at 1-1 when Lopes scored from third base on Alford’s ground out in the bottom of the frame.
Richmond starter Dan Slania (3-2) took the loss. The right-hander allowed five earned runs on 12 hits and struck out three batters over 4 2/3 innings.
“The bats were alive in the second game,” Allenson said.