Late Sea Dogs rally falls short against Somerset

A boisterous crowd on a gorgeous Friday night at Hadlock Field came ready to roar.

Janson Junk made them wait.

Junk pitched seven efficient innings to send the Somerset Patriots on their way to a 7-4 victory over the Portland Sea Dogs. Somerset has won three straight in the first series between the top two teams in the Double-A Northeast League.

A 22nd-round draft pick out of Seattle University – where he walked on to the baseball team – Junk retired the first seven Sea Dogs and allowed only three hits and one run.

The first was a flare to center that eluded diving outfielder Michael Beltre and resulted in a double for Jhonny Pereda, who subsequently scored on a two-out single by Grant Williams. The only other Portland hit off Junk was a ground single in the fifth by Ryan Fitzgerald.

“He can throw all four of his pitches for strikes, any count, any time,” said Somerset catcher Donny Sands, who provided Junk with a cushion by homering in the third to put the Patriots ahead 4-0.

The Sea Dogs fared better in the final two innings. Against reliever Kevin Gadea, they had five hits – including doubles by Williams, Pedro Castellanos and Devlin Granberg – and scored three runs. Williams finished with two hits and two RBI and raised his average to .315. In 124 at-bats this season, he has whiffed only seven times.

“Just staying disciplined with two strikes, not trying to do too much,” Williams said. “I’m not going to be driving the ball out of the ballpark very often. My job is to get on base.”

Sea Dogs starter Frank German, who came to the Red Sox in the Adam Ottavino deal, played alongside Junk, Sands and other Somerset players on the 2019 Tampa Tarpons in the Florida State League. German gave up six hits in five innings and struck out five. Two wild pitches and a pickoff attempt in which nobody was covering second base set up the first three Somerset runs.

“He was one of my good friends with the Yankees,” Junk said. “It was fun to finally watch him pitch after two years.”

Junk walked none, struck out three and got 10 fly-ball outs. He had five 1-2-3 innings. His league-best ERA actually rose slightly to 1.07.

Diego Castillo went 3 for 5 with a home run over the tall left-field wall for Somerset, which saw its lead over the second-place Sea Dogs grow to five games. Oswald Peraza added a pair of doubles.

NOTES: Sea Dogs Manager Corey Wimberly is in Florida for the weekend, attending the funeral of his aunt. During his absence, Red Sox catching coordinator Chad Epperson will handle managerial duties. … Umpires examined the hat, glove and belt of each starting pitcher as he returned to the dugout in the first inning, part of organized baseball’s crackdown on “sticky substances” that began earlier this week. Each succeeding reliever went through the same inspection. … A pregame tribute to all the Slugger’s Kids who have been part of the team’s partnership with the Maine Children’s Cancer Fund culminated in the current Kid, Lauren Loisel of Scarborough, singing the national anthem. The 23-year-old received a rousing ovation. … Attendance was 5,080.

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