Photo courtesy Reading Fightin Phils

A loss by the Hartford Yard Goats guarantees Reading of a spot in the Eastern League Playoffs

While the Reading Fightin Phils aren't exactly playing their best ball of the season, they were so hot early on, that they have been able to clinch a spot in the Eastern League Playoffs, where they will likely square off against Trenton.

The Fightin Phils (83-48), despite losing to the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (63-69) 5-2 on Friday night, still clinched a playoff spot with the Hartford Yard Goats losing earlier in the day. Reading also set a single-season total bases record when Scott Kingery singled in the bottom of the third, giving the Fightins 2,004 total bases, and growing, on the season. The 2000 Reading Phillies had 2,003 total bases.     

Jason Leblebijian hit a two-out RBI double off Tom Eshelman (4-5) in the top of the second to give New Hampshire a 1-0 lead. The Fisher Cats added to their lead as they scored two runs off Eshelman in the top of the third. Ryan Lavarnway came through with an RBI single, then advanced to second on a throwing error by Mitch Walding. Christian Lopes and Jon Berti both scored as a result of the play. 

Eshelman left the game after five innings, and allowed three runs - two earned - off four hits and three walks, with one strikeout. Joey DeNato entered the game in the top of the sixth, and went 1 1/3 innings without allowing a run before Alexis Rivero took over in the top of the seventh. New Hampshire’s John Straka (2-1) gave up just three hits and issued one walk with eight strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings.  

Rowdy Tellez hit a home run - his 18th of the season - off Rivero in the top of the eighth to give New Hampshire a 4-0 lead. Tellez added an RBI single off Rivero in the top of the ninth, stretching the Fisher Cats lead to 5-0. Rhys Hoskins belted a two-run home run off John Anderson in the bottom of the ninth to cut New Hampshire’s lead to 5-2. The shot was Hoskin's 36th of the season, and he now has 109 RBI this year. 

Chris Smith entered the game with one out in the bottom of the ninth for the Fisher Cats and struck out K.C. Serna with the bases loaded to record his 15th save of the season.

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