Senators Outlast Fisher Cats, 5-4, to Win Series

Stephen Perez and Kevin Keyes homer in the victory

Video Highlights

In a back and forth affair, the Harrisburg Senators outlasted the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, 5-4, in front of 3,458 fans at FNB Field. The outcome clinched the Senators’ sixth straight series victory.

Harrisburg (57-46) got on the board in the third inning when Stephen Perez clubbed a home run, his fifth of the season, after Spencer Kieboom singled to reach base. New Hampshire plated an unearned run two frames later to cut the Senators’ lead in half, 2-1.

Harrisburg starter Phillips Valdez was brilliant against the Fisher Cats lineup until he ran into trouble in the top of the seventh inning. A pair of walks and a pair of singles off Valdez gave New Hampshire a 3-2 lead and put the right-hander on the hook for the loss. A half-inning later the Senators’ offense took him off it, but by then Valdez’s outing was complete as he allowed six hits and two walks while striking out two and inducing 12 groundball outs.

“The confidence he got in his last start towards the end of that ballgame carried over to this game,” Senators’ manager Matt LeCroy said. “He starting to throw more strikes with the fastball.”

“He did a nice job. That’s why we kept him in there (in the seventh). I wasn’t going to take him out. He’s got to learn that somebody isn’t going to come get him every time he’s in trouble.”

Phillips Valdez was sensational in the first six innings before allowing the go-ahead runs in the seventh (Will Bentzel / MiLB)

Phillips Valdez was sensational in the first six innings before allowing the go-ahead runs in the seventh (Will Bentzel / MiLB)

The Senators re-took the lead as Drew Ward singled up the middle, his second hit of the day, to start the Harrisburg rally and set the stage for Kevin Keyes. The first baseman delivered the go-ahead two-run home run that gave the Senators a 4-3 lead for the moment.

“I can tell he’s getting frustrated emotionally,” LeCroy said of Keyes’ recent struggles. “Hopefully, that will give him some confidence. He can carry you. He did it up there against these guys. We’ll need him.”

But the Fisher Cats weren’t done as they got to Harrisburg reliever Robert Benincasa for the tying run on back-to-back doubles with two outs.

The Senators responded in their half of the inning as Khayyan Norfork led off by getting hit by a pitch. A Rafael Bautista sacrifice bunt moved him up 90 feet, and he reached third base on an Andrew Stevenson groundball to second base that was mishandled for an error. With the New Hampshire infield in, Isaac Ballou hit a soft grounder to third that he was able to beat out on the back-end of the double play attempt. It was enough to give the Senators another one-run lead as they turned the game over to reliever Andrew Robinson.

Despite the Fisher Cats getting the tying run to third base, Robinson struck out one and induced two pop-up outs to nail down his fourth save of the season.

The Senators head out on the road to face the Hartford Yard Goats at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester, NH over the next four days. Jaron Long will take his turn in the Harrisburg rotation against German Marquez for the game slated to start at 5:05 p.m. on Thursday. The game can be heard on Fox Sports 1460 AM, on the internet at senatorsbaseball.com, or through the TuneIn and iHeart Radio apps with The Matt LeCroy Show beginning the radio broadcast at 4:50 p.m.

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