2018-05-14 / Varsity Maine / Sports

Rumble Ponies rout Sea Dogs

BY KEVIN THOMAS
Portland Press-Herald

PORTLAND

Of course it was on Jeff McNeil’s mind.

But you can’t just hit a home run when you want to.

McNeil, second baseman for the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, had already tripled, doubled and singled against the Portland Sea Dogs. He completed the cycle with an eighth-inning home run on a full-count fastball. McNeil’s production was part of the Rumble Ponies’ 10-4 romp Sunday afternoon, before 4,838 at Hadlock Field.

“I was definitely thinking about it,” said McNeil, who had never hit for the cycle in the pros or in college at Long Beach State.

The loss was Portland’s third straight – which followed a four-game winning streak – as the Sea Dogs dropped to 11-22.

“We played two really good games in New Hampshire and then came here and swept the doubleheader (Thursday),” Portland Manager Darren Fenster said. “Then we kind of stepped on the brakes a little bit.”

The Sea Dogs managed seven hits – including home runs from Josh Ockimey (solo) and Tony Renda (two-run shot) and Jantzen Witte’s RBI double.

But Portland’s pitching, which is last in the Eastern League with a 4.79 ERA, could not contain Binghamton and its 15-hit attack. Peter Alonso also homered for the Ponies, his ninth.

Binghamton’s Tim Tebow, the former NFL quarterback, went 2 for 5 with a double. He was 5 for 14 in the series, upping his average to .260. He’s batting .316 in May.

Sea Dogs starter Travis Lakins (0-1) took the loss, allowing four runs over 21/3 innings. Lakins, recovering from a stress fracture in his elbow, is on a tight pitch count. In his previous three starts, he lasted three innings without allowing a run.

Teddy Stankiewicz has been piggy-backing Lakins’ starts. He was roughed up for three runs in the fourth inning but rebounded with three scoreless frames.

In the eighth, Stankiewicz recorded eight straight strikes — for two strikeouts and an 0-2 count on McNeil. But McNeil worked the count full. McNeil crushed it to the top row of the right-field pavilion for his seventh home run.

Binghamton starter Marcos Molina (1-3) held the Sea Dogs to two runs on four hits over six innings.

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