Neither team scored until the ninth inning, thanks to great starting pitching from Brandon Moore and Wander Alvino.
Alvino went seven strong innings only giving up three hits and two walks. He did not allow a single runner to get past second base. John Servidio tried to advance to third from first in the top of the sixth inning off a single by Sam Honeck, but was gunned down by three steps thanks to a very strong throw from right fielder Sean Barksdale. Alvino's ERA fell to a very impressive 0.53 ERA at the end of his outing, which is one of the best in the league among starters.
Wander benefited from some other great plays made in the field. In the top of the fourth, Nick Giarraputo hit a ground ball in between third and short that looked like it would make it through the hole for a base hit. However, shortstop Brandon Wikoff scooped up the ball, and while falling to his right, threw Giarraputo out from the edge of the outfield grass. Second baseman Ben Orloff saw that and thought he could do better. On the very next play, Ralph Henriquez hit a liner heading towards right-center field, another potential base hit. But Orloff got a great jump on the ball, sprinted to his right, leaped and caught the ball while he was fully extended.
Wikoff must have seen this as a challenge, and in the eighth inning made what could be considered the play of the year for the 'Cats so far.
With two outs in the top of the eighth, Servidio came up with nobody on. John was robbed of extra bases on a great throw by Barksdale earlier in the game. This time, he was robbed of a base hit on a ground ball that Wikoff had to go behind the third baseman to get. Wikoff backhanded it again, and threw out Servidio at first by a step.
Then came the ninth inning. Matt Gaski walked to start the top of the ninth, and then advanced to second on a wild pitch by ValleyCats reliever Antonio Noguera. Gaski advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Honeck. Justin Harper got Giarraputo to fly out to right, but it was deep enough to score the run, as the Cyclones took a 1-0 lead. Henriquez hit a grounder back to Harper to end the inning.
Russell Dixon pinch-hit for Sean Barksdale, who was 1-2 already in the game, to start the bottom half of the inning. Dixon skied one to deep center that looked playable for Servidio, but it went over his head and Dixon ended up on third with a lead off triple. Barry Butera immediately came out to run for Dixon, which set up Ben Orloff to get another big hit. Orloff hit a single to left to score Butera and tie the game. Manager Jim Pankovits tried to get Orloff in when he elected to have Wikoff sacrifice bunt, but neither Brian Kemp nor Jhonny Medrano could bat Orloff around.
The Cyclones scored again in the tenth, thanks to a combination of a Luis Rivera lead off walk, a sacrifice bunt from Nick Santomauro, and single by Dock Doyle.
The ValleyCats faced a 2-1 deficit in the bottom of the tenth, and couldn't claw their way back to win the game.
The 'Cats broke their attendance record for a single game for the second straight Fourth of July. Last year, the ValleyCats played in front of 6,630 fans, which broke the previous record of 6,123 on July 4, 2006. Saturday night's attendance shattered them all as 6,838 fans came out to see the game and watch the half-hour fireworks display. This number even eclipsed last year's NYPL All-Star Game, which the ValleyCats hosted. 6,149 came out to see the All-Star Game, the third most in the stadiums seven-year history.
The Cyclones improve to 13-2 on the season with the win, while the ValleyCats drop to 5-8.
The ValleyCats face off against the Brooklyn Cyclones for the second game of the three game series tomorrow night at 5:00 pm. Tickets are still available and may be purchased at the Joseph L. Bruno Stadium Box Office, calling (518) 629-CATS or by clicking here.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.