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Espinal contributes in Fisher Cats' win

By ROGER BROWN
New Hampshire Union Leader

July 20. 2018 2:41AM

New Hampshire's Vladimir Guerrero Jr. warms up before batting in the first inning against Harrisburg at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester on Thursday. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)



MANCHESTER — There was a new face in the Fisher Cats infield Thursday night, and we’re not talking about Vlad Guerrero Jr.

On the same night Guerrero returned to New Hampshire after a rehab stint with Class A Dunedin (one game) and the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays (three games), the Fisher Cats welcomed infielder Santiago Espinal to the team. Espinal, who was acquired from the Red Sox for Steve Pearce last month, started at second base in New Hampshire’s 6-3 triumph over the Harrisburg Senators.

“Very excited to be here and play some baseball,” Espinal said. “Right away (after the trade) I thought maybe this was a good opportunity for me and my career in baseball. That’s how I take it.”

Espinal doubled in the first inning, and reached on an error and scored on a sacrifice fly to tie the game, 3-3, in the sixth. The Fisher Cats (54-41) pulled away with a three-run seventh inning that featured an RBI single by center fielder Andrew Guillotte and a two-run double by shortstop Bo Bichette.

Justin Dillon (2-4) picked up the win by pitching a scoreless seventh inning. New Hampshire starter T.J. Zeuch allowed three runs on seven hits in six innings. He struck out three and didn’t walk a batter. Andrew Case pitched a scoreless ninth to earn the save.

Harrisburg (Nationals) starter Tyler Mapes took the loss (1-2). He allowed five runs (four earned) on five hits in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out five and walked one. The Senators (50-47) scored all of their runs in the third and led 3-1 entering the bottom of the sixth.

Espinal hit .313 in 65 games with the Class A Salem (Red Sox) and batted .262 in 17 games with Class A Dunedin (Blue Jays) before he was promoted to New Hampshire.

The Red Sox selected Espinal in the 10th round of the 2016 draft. He has played primarily shortstop in the pros, but has also been used at second base and third base.

Guerrero, the top-ranked prospect in baseball according to both MLB.com and Baseball America, entered Thursday night’s game hitting .407 with 11 home runs, 18 doubles and 55 RBIs in 53 games with the Fisher Cats. He went on the disabled list June 7.

Guerrero started at third base and went 1-for-4 with two strikeouts in the victory.

The teams play again tonight at 7:05 p.m.

rbrown@unionleader.com


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