It’s OK to arrive a little late to Hadlock Field, but with the way the Portland Sea Dogs have played this week, don’t even think about leaving early.

Thursday afternoon in front of 6,121 fans, the Sea Dogs rallied for five runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, then held off Richmond in the top of the ninth for a 6-5 victory. It was the third straight win for the Sea Dogs, all by one run and all with the winning run coming in their last at-bat.

“The last couple days have been crazy. We’re just grinding and trying to find a way to win. Always just competing and battling to the end of the game. You never know what’s going to happen,” said Tyler Dearden, whose one-out double was a key hit in the eighth-inning rally.

With the Sea Dogs trailing 5-1 going to the bottom of the eighth, Izzy Wilson doubled home Hudson Potts. After Nick Northcut was hit by a pitch, Dearden’s opposite-field double down the left-field line scored Wilson, cutting Richmond’s lead to 5-3.

“It was my second at-bat against that pitcher (Ofelky Peralta). He was throwing me away, away. If he’s going to throw me out there, I’m just going to take it and try to shoot it to left field,” said Dearden, who had the winning hit in Wednesday’s 1-0, 10-inning victory.

Pinch hitter Wilyer Abreu greeted new Richmond pitcher Nick Avila with an RBI single. Wil Dalton’s single drove in Dearden to tie the game, and Abreu scored the go-ahead run when Elih Marrero’s single glanced off the glove of Richmond first baseman Riley Mahan.


Then the Sea Dogs ran themselves out of an even bigger rally. The ball spun from Mahan right to second baseman Brett Auerbach, who threw Dalton out trying to advance to third. Marrero was then thrown out trying to advance to second base, sending Portland to the ninth inning with a one-run lead.

Michael Gettys came on to pitch the ninth and gave up back-to-back singles to Mahan and Diego Rincones to open the inning. Mahan was thrown out at third when Mike Gigliotti’s sacrifice bunt try went right back to Gettys. After a strikeout, Getty plunked Tristan Peters to load the bases before striking out Auerbach looking with a 94 mph fastball on a full count to earn his second save.

“He’s confident, and we’re confident with him out there,” Portland Manager Chad Epperson said of Gettys. “Kudos to our pitching to give us the opportunity to do these things. Our starters are giving us a chance. The bullpen as of late has come in and done their job.”

Portland starter Brian Van Belle threw six innings, allowing three runs, all in the first two innings. Van Belle gave up six hits and struck out three while walking none. Rio Gomez pitched two innings, allowing two runs in the top of the eighth, and was credited with his first win of the season.

“I thought (Van Belle) did an outstanding job. I think today he was kind of up with his stuff in the beginning, then made the adjustment and got the ball down, and that’s when he cruised,” Epperson said.

The Flying Squirrels scored a pair of runs in the first inning and took a 3-0 lead in the second on Jacob Heyward’s home run off the left-field foul pole. The Sea Dogs got a run back in the third on Ceddanne Rafaela’s 405-foot home run to left, his ninth since his promotion to Double-A in June and his 18th of the season overall.

Thursday’s victory helped Portland gain a game on the Somerset Patriots in the fight for first place in the Eastern League’s Northeast Division second-half standings. Portland’s win, coupled with Somerset’s 4-2 loss to Hartford, gives the Sea Dogs (22-14) a 1½-game lead over the Patriots (20-15). The divisional winners in each half will meet in the first round of the playoffs in September.

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