New Hampshire Ousts Squirrels, Claims Eastern League Title

Richmond, VA (WWBT)- The New Hampshire Fisher Cats claimed the Eastern League title with a 4-3 victory over the Flying Squirrels in Game 4 of the Eastern League Championship Series at The Diamond on Saturday night. The Fisher Cats won the best-of-five series three games to one.

With the game tied at three, the Fisher Cats mounted the game-winning rally in the top of the ninth inning. Right-hander Hector Correa had tossed two scoreless innings, but surrendered a one-out single to Anthony Gose. Correa got the second out, but Moises Sierra lined a single into right field, which was misplayed to the wall by Francisco Peguero. The error allowed Gose to race all the way around from first base to score the winning run. Correa was tagged with the loss over three innings of relief.

After a scoreless first inning, the Fisher Cats struck first against Richmond right-hander Justin Fitzgerald in the top of the second inning. Fitzgerald got ahead of Mike McDade 0-2, but hit him in the foot with a breaking-ball to start the inning. A batter later, Danny Perales lined a single into right field to put two aboard with one out. Fitzgerald recovered to strike out Mark Sobolewski, but Jonathan Diaz coaxed a single back through the middle to plate McDade for a 1-0 advantage.

The Richmond response was immediate, as Johnny Monell lined an inning-opening double off the wall in right field off of New Hampshire right-hander Deck McGuire. Chris Dominguez followed and shot a single into centerfield, barely missing McGuire on the mound. Gose overran the ball, and Monell came in on his error to tie the game, 1-1.

The Squirrels broke on top for the first time against McGuire in the bottom of the third inning. Jackson Williams led off the inning with a double to the alley in left-center field. Skyler Stromsmoe bunted him to third with one out. McGuire recovered to strike out Charlie Culberson, but walked Wendell Fairley to bring Peguero to the plate. He delivered a shattered-bat single into right-center field, bringing in Williams for a 2-1 lead.

The lead vanished quickly, as Fitzgerald issued a lead-off walk to McDade in the top of the fourth inning. Kevin Howard followed and blasted a 2-0 pitch from Fitzgerald over the right-field wall. The two-run home run put New Hampshire back on top, 3-2. Following the ballgame, Howard was named as the Eastern League post-season MVP.

McGuire departed due to a pitch-count after just three innings. He didn't factor in the decision, allowing two earned runs on four hits. He walked one and struck out three.

Right-hander Rey Gonzalez held off the Squirrels in the fourth and fifth innings, but Francisco Peguero led off the sixth with an infield-single. He advanced to second on a wild-pitch, and with one out Dominguez was walked to put two aboard. Wes Hodges bounced a fielder's choice to the shortstop, and barely beat the relay at first base to extend the inning. Juan Perez then chopped an infield-single to third base to bring in Peguero to tie the game, 3-3.

Fitzgerald departed to a no-decision after a quality-start and six innings. He struck out the last four batters he faced, allowing three earned runs on five hits. He walked two and struck out nine.

Right-hander Clint Everts earned the win in relief for New Hampshire. Right-hander Bobby Korecky earned his fifth save of the post-season, retiring the Squirrels in order in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Copyright 2011 WWBT NBC12.  All rights reserved.