The New Hampshire Fisher Cats can win their third Eastern League title in a ballpark they’ve never won it before: Northeast Delta Dental Stadium.
The Fisher Cats, who took the first two games of the best-of-five EL championship series in Akron, will host the RubberDucks in tonight’s (6:35 p.m.) Game 3. One win and New Hampshire will sweep the series; an Akron victory would force a Game 4 in Manchester on Saturday night at 6:35 p.m., and another Akron triumph on Saturday would force a Game 5, also at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium, on Sunday at 1:35 p.m.
The Fisher Cats have two league crowns in their history: in 2004, under manager Mike Basso, and 2011, under Sal Fasano. The 2011 championship was won in Richmond. The 2004 title was clinched in Manchester, with future major leaguer Brandon League on the mound for the final out at Gill Stadium — the Fisher Cats’ home before their current ballpark was built.
Another potential first: A sweep tonight would give the Fisher Cats a postseason record of 6-0. New Hampshire swept Trenton in the East Division championship series.
Tonight, New Hampshire right-hander Jordan Romano (1-0 in the playoffs) opposes righty Zach Plesac, who is 0-0 in the postseason. He went 3-1 with Akron after being called up from Single-A Lynchburg, where he was 8-5. He is the nephew of former major leaguer Dan Plesac.
Akron, the Double-A affiliate of Cleveland, is chasing its second EL title in three years, having won it in 2016.
The Fisher Cats are in this favorable position thanks to 3-1 (10 innings) and 6-1 victories in the Rubber City. Each victory featured dominant starting pitching from New Hampshire prospects T.J. Zeuch (Tuesday) and Jon Harris (Wednesday).
“Could we win three in a row at their place?” Absolutely, man,” Akron manager Tony Mansolino told the Akron Beacon Journal. “Their park is a lot smaller. Some of the balls we hit up in the air have a chance to get out. The good thing is for the next two days we don’t have to see Zeuch or Harris. We’ll get two other guys that are solid, but not to the level we just saw. If you can win one game, you put pressure on them and then go from there.”