WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. - On a night that saw the US Army and its 239th birthday honored by the 12,506 in attendance Raley Field, the Sacramento River Cats (40-29) defeated the Iowa Cubs (33-33) by a score of 9-4 on Sutter Health Fireworks Saturday.
The contest was scoreless through the first four innings as River Cats starter Dan Straily (4-1, 3.55 ERA) and Cubs southpaw Tsuyoshi Wada (6-4, 2.82 ERA) made quick work of both lineups early.
Iowa pushed across the game's first run in the top of the fifth inning on left fielder Matt Szczur's RBI-single to left with the bases loaded. Sacramento left fielder Colin Walsh prevented a second run from scoring on the single, throwing out Cubs right fielder Casper Well at home plate. Szczur finished the game 3-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI.
Things began to unravel for Wada in the bottom of the fifth, starting when Cats shortstop Tyler Ladendorf smacked a solo home run to left field, his second of the year, to tie the ballgame at one. Ladendorf ended the night 3-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI.
That was only the beginning as Sacramento would go on to score five more runs in the frame. Third baseman Jose Martinez drew a bases-loaded walk off Wada, who was then replaced by reliever Alberto Cabrera. Walsh greeted him with a two-run single to center that scored Nate Freiman and Shane Peterson and opened up the River Cats lead to 4-1. Second baseman Wade Kirkland, who was making his debut with the Cats, then reached on a throwing-error by Cubs shortstop Arismendy Alcantara that brought two runners home and gave Sacramento a commanding 6-1 edge.
Freiman added to the River Cats advantage with a deep two-run homer to left-center field to make it an 8-1 contest. The blast was the second in as many nights for Freiman and number 11 on the season. He finished the game 2-for-4 with two runs scored, the home run, two RBI and a walk and now leads the Pacific Coast League in RBI with 61.
The Cubs wouldn't go quietly, starting with catcher Luis Flores' homer off of Cats reliever Jose Flores to start the top of the eighth inning. Iowa would add two more runs in the inning to cut the Cats lead to four with one of them coming on second baseman Chris Valaika's RBI-single to center field.
Sacramento tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth on a run-scoring single by Martinez to give the club their final 9-4 advantage. River Cats reliever Deryk Hooker pitched 1.1 scoreless innings of relief to secure the victory and give the club win number 40 on the season.
Straily earned the victory for the Cats, tossing seven innings of one-run baseball, giving up five hits and three walks with a season-high nine strikeouts. Wada took the loss for Iowa after surrendering five runs−four earned−on seven hits and four walks while striking out five in 4.1 innings of work.
River Cats right-hander Josh Lindblom (3-3, 6.50 ERA) faces off against Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks (6-5, 3.89 ERA) on Father's Day at Raley Field. First pitch is called for 1:05 p.m. in the third game of this four-game set with the Cubs on this special K-LOVE Sunday Funday at the ballpark.
River Cats Season Tickets, Mini-Plans, and Flex Plans can be purchased for the 2014 season by calling the River Cats Ticket Hotline at (916) 371-HITS (4487). Single-game tickets can now be purchased at Raley Field's Round Table Pizza Ticket Office or online at rivercats.com or ticketmaster.com. For more information about the River Cats, visit www.rivercats.com. For information on other events at Raley Field, visit www.raleyfield.com.