Hartford’s Yonathan Daza (2) is tagged out by Portland’s Chad De La Guerra (43) while trying to steal second. (Brianna Soukup/Portland Press Herald)

PORTLAND — Hadlock Field will always be special for Sean Nolin.

Exactly five years ago, when Nolin was a starting pitcher for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, he was pulled from the visiting dugout, ushered into the Portland Expo and informed he was being called up to the big leagues.

On Tuesday night at Hadlock, Nolin made his return to professional baseball after an absence of more than two years and earned the decision in a 5-3 victory by the Hartford Yard Goats over the Sea Dogs.

It wasn’t quite the same as pitching in the majors, “but I was still excited,” said Nolin, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2016 and had not pitched professionally since September of 2015 with the Oakland Athletics.

How excited? Nolin entered a game Hartford led 3-2 with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh and threw five consecutive balls, forcing in the tying run before coming back to strike out Portland’s hottest hitter, Jantzen Witte, who was 14-for-31 (.452) last week.


“A little too much adrenaline going,” said Nolin, 28, who grew up in Long Island, New York. “That’s all it was. The next inning went a little better.”

Indeed, Hartford shortstop Brendan Rodgers, the third overall draft pick of 2015 by Colorado, belted a tie-breaking two-run homer in the eighth that struck high off the scoreboard in left-center and traveled an estimated 412 feet, giving the Yard Goats the lead for good.

Nolin allowed a leadoff single to Josh Ockimey in the home eighth before retiring three in a row and handing off to closer Matt Pierpont, who picked up his 12th save with a one-hit ninth.

The Yard Goats have won eight straight against the Sea Dogs, who opened a week-long homestand after returning from Altoona, Pennsylvania, in the wee hours of Monday morning.

“For whatever reason, we haven’t been able to finish games off against them,” Sea Dogs manager Darren Fenster said. “We’ve been in position to win the game but can’t close it out.”

The Yard Goats took a 3-0 lead in the third with help from two Portland errors and doubles by Hartford’s Yonathan Daza and Scott Burcham. The Sea Dogs got one back in the fifth on a solo home run from Luke Tendler, his fifth, but that was the only damage inflicted on Hartford starter Jesus Tinoco.


One of three Yard Goats on Colorado’s 40-man roster, Tinoco struck out seven and walked none in five innings.

Portland starter Kyle Hart also had superb control, not walking anyone in seven innings.

“He did a really good job of feeding off their aggression with some quality stuff,” Fenster said. “He kept off their barrel.”

Hart escaped a fourth-inning jam by snaring a liner headed at his knee with runners on second and third. It marked the first of 10 straight batters he retired before giving way to the bullpen, having allowed six hits and one earned run.

The Sea Dogs tied it at 3 in the seventh on a rally that began when Tate Matheny reached base after swinging at a wild pitch on strike three. Tendler singled, Jeremy Rivera drove in one run with an infield out and Tendler scored after a pair of walks forced him home.

The announced attendance was 3,403. Rain delayed the start by 38 minutes.

Sea Dogs’ Luke Tendler (10) high-fives teammate Austin Rei (28) after Tendler’s home run in the fifth inning against Hartford. (Brianna Soukup/Portland Press Herald)

Hartford’s Anthony Phillips (10) throws to first after getting Sea Dogs Austin Rei (28) out, but the throw doesn’t get it there in time for the double play. (Brianna Soukup/Portland Press Herald)

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