By Kyle Kesses
ABILENE – Last night the Fort Worth Cats owned the late innings, but tonight they owned all of them, using Trevor Harden’s five-hit shutout to breeze past the Dogs 8-0 at Walt Driggers Field.
After Billy Petrick struck out the first batter of the game on three pitches, the big lefty allowed three consecutive base hits, including Chad Gabriel’s RBI single, as the visitors snatched a quick 2-0 advantage.
But as he so frequently does, Petrick quickly found a rhythm. Beginning with a strikeout of C.J. Beatty in the first, Petrick retired seven of eight batters. After consecutive base hits from Jose Ruiz and C.J. Beatty with two outs in the third, Brandon Jones built on his league-leading home run total by blasting a three-run shot just to the right of dead-center field – his 15th round-tripper of the year – and the Cats owned a 5-0 lead.
Meanwhile, Trevor Harden was cruising on the hill. The right-hander from St. Petersburg, Florida allowed more than one base hit in an inning just once as he spun a five-hit shutout with four strikeouts and just a single walk. Danny Gonzalez became the Prairie Dogs’ final base runner when he singled with one out in the bottom of the fifth. Harden retired the last 14 batters he faced and has now fired 15 consecutive scoreless innings against Abilene – dating back to his start in the second half of Saturday’s double header at LaGrave Field.
Despite the rough beginning, Petrick rebounded on Friday, allowing just three hits and no runs after the third inning. He tossed eight frames and allowed five runs on nine hits while fanning six.
Ray Silva took the hill in the top of the ninth with his team trailing 5-0 and allowed the Cats to pull away. Fort Worth pieced together a four-hit inning and tacked on three runs to provide the final margin. Silva was ejected from the game after arguing with the first base umpire after the inning.