Isaac Ballou hit a grand slam and drove in a career-high seven runs as the Senators jumped out to an early lead before holding on in a 9-6 victory over the Portland Sea Dogs Wednesday night at Hadlock Field.
The Senators (38-32) led 7-0 after three and a half innings, and never trailed despite seeing their lead cut to one after six innings.
The Senators’ first big inning came in the third when they loaded the bases with nobody out for Wilmer Difo, who drove in a run with an RBI fielder’s choice. Ballou followed with his first big swing of the game – a two-run double to left that put Harrisburg up 3-0.
Harrisburg again loaded the bases in the fourth inning with no outs, but a fielder’s choice cutting down the runner at home and a pop out left the Senators with two outs and no runs scored. However, Ballou moved ahead in the count 3-1 before lining a grand slam over the two-tiered right field wall to extend the Senators’ lead to 7-0.
From there Portland began to chip away, scoring two runs in the fourth and three in the fifth off Senators’ starter Lucas Giolito to force the right-hander out of the game with two outs in the fifth inning. Giolito exited with the bases loaded, and John Simms stranded all three runners by inducing a grounder back to the mound.
Simms then allowed Portland to cut the Senators’ lead to 7-6 with a run in the sixth, but finished his night with a scoreless seventh to throw 2.1 effective innings.
The Senators added two runs in the eighth inning when Rafael Bautista laid down a wonderful bunt with runners on first and second. Portland catcher Jake Romanski rushed to throw out the speedy Bautista but his throw went down the first base line, allowing Harrisburg’s Shawn Pleffner to score. Ballou made it seven RBI later in the inning with a sacrifice fly to make it 9-6, Senators.
Nick Lee pitched a scoreless eighth for his fourth hold and Abel De Los Santos earned the save with a clean ninth inning in his first appearance with the Senators since April 20.
Zach Collier and Pleffner each had two hits while Stephen Perez had three singles for the Senators. Pleffner and Perez each scored three runs.
The finale of the three-game series in Portland will begin Thursday night at 6:00 p.m. as Phillips Valdez will make his third AA start with Harrisburg looking for a series victory. 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 5:45 p.m.