Yard Goats Pull Together Season’s First Wins
After a rough start to the season, it seems as if the Hartford Yard Goats of the Double-A Eastern League have started to pull it together. Their first six games were all losses, having been outscored by 17 runs in their first stretch.
The Goats had gotten swept by the New Hampshire Fisher Cats and had lost the first two games against the Richmond Flying Squirrels, and it seemed as if a third loss was coming. Yet starting pitcher Ryan Castellani was determined to get a win, to try to get out of last place.
Castellani went six strong innings, allowing just five hits and one run. All but a pair of his innings went 1-2-3, maintaining his common standard of efficiency. The run came in the 4th inning, when Miguel Gomez hit a deep single to put the Fisher Cats on the board.
The indisputable hero of the game was rookie Sam Hilliard, who hit a towering bomb in the 2nd inning to give the Yard Goats their first lead of the game. He had two hits in the game, and Hartford’s other run came from a Yonathan Daza triple in the 5th inning. Lefty Mitch Horacek and closer Matt Piermont closed the game out, almost giving up the lead several times but still finding a way to hold on for the season’s first win.
Two days later, Hartford once again began a series with the Fisher Cats. This time, they were back for revenge. Fisher Cats starter was none other than Nick Tepesch, who has made 44 Major League starts for several teams.
The Yard Goats tatted Tepesch up, and swiftly handed him the loss. After two innings, they had already scored three runs. Garrett Hampson opened the game with a double and later crossed the plate in the opening frame thanks to a Brendan Rodgers single, who scored next on a hit from Dom Nunez. The third run came in the 2nd inning after Hampson singled to drive in Bobby Wernes.
In the 5th, the Goats scored four more, giving themselves a comfortable 7-3 lead. The Fisher Cats battled back, though. Reliever Jason Garcia gave up a pair of runs in the 6th, bringing the Cats back. Nunez drove in another run in the 7th, and the Goats were able to close the game out with a 8-5 win.
New Hampshire got the best of the Yard Goats in the next game, winning 5-2. The final game of the series was postponed Sunday. After Monday’s game against Portland was also rained out, Hartford will play a double-header on Tuesday to start a four game series against the 4th place Portland Sea Dogs. The Goats are seeking to move themselves out of last place and improve their 2-7 record, with the end-all goal being to make the postseason.