In the second inning, Renzo Tello matched that with one swing of the bat.
The second-year outfielder drove a 1-0 curveball from Chad Jenkins over the Tri-City bullpen in left field, giving the hosts a 3-1 lead. The ValleyCats' pitching was characteristically superb, and the home team cruised to a 5-2 victory.
Tri-City came into the game with a team batting average of .196, worst in the New York-Penn League. But the ValleyCats broke out of their slump in the second inning. Ben Heath singled to center and Dan Adamson walked, putting two on for Tello's blast. The home run didn't kill the rally, as Frank Almonte followed with a double down the left-field line. Oscar Figueroa singled to the opposite field, extending Tri-City's lead to three runs.
Tello, Almonte and Figueroa each had a pair of hits. The ValleyCats as a team managed 10, their best effort since stroking 12 on Opening Day.
Almonte nearly had a third in the eighth inning, driving a fly ball deep into the left-field corner. But Chad Mozingo made an outstanding play, diving on the warning track to snare Almonte's blast. Tello was already past second base, expecting the ball to drop, and the relay throw was in time to double him off at first.
The bottom of the order also produced the ValleyCats' other run. Dan Adamson led off the fifth inning with a walk and reached second when Vermont bungled a pickoff play. Almonte singled him over to third, and Figueroa brought the run home on a fielder's choice.
The home team threatened in several other innings, picking up a hit in every frame but the third. Enrique Hernandez hit a double to the warning track in center field - a ball that would have been out of the park pretty much anywhere else - but was stranded at third base. The 'Cats loaded the bases in the seventh, but could not push a run across.
Tri-City committed just one error, a ground ball that newly converted shortstop Mike Kvasnicka could not handle. The rookie redeemed himself two batters later, fielding a two-hopper and throwing across the diamond to retire Hendry Jimenez and end the inning.
Instead, the ValleyCats' miscues came on the basepaths. Oscar Figueroa was caught stealing to end the sixth inning, and the leadoff hitter in the seventh, Wilton Infante, was also erased when he overslid third base on a steal attempt. Kvasnicka was picked off in the first inning as well.
"We were a little over-aggressive on the bases and ran into some outs," Pankovits said. "But it's part of their development. We need to see what they can do."
The Tri-City pitching staff turned in yet another outstanding performance, fanning eleven Lake Monsters while only walking three. Lefty Chris Blazek got the win, throwing two perfect innings with five strikeouts.
Starting pitcher Bobby Doran only lasted four innings due to a pitch count. He was effective in his time on the hill, keeping Vermont hitters off-balance. He allowed five hits, but only a couple were well-struck. The others more resembled Jack Walker's single with two outs in the second inning - a weak grounder died in front of Doran, but the big righty slipped on his way to pick up the ball. Naturally, Wilfri Pena followed with a double to bring Walker home.
"[Doran] has thrown really well every time out for us," manager Jim Pankovits said. "I can't wait for him to get more stretched out and throw deeper into games. He's a big, strong kid, he's got outstanding stuff, he's all business out there and he's got a bright future."
Vermont's other run also came via a two-out rally. In the fourth inning, a lazy fly ball by Justin Miller found the gap between right and center. Pena again was the man to bring Miller home, driving a ground ball through the left side.
To say Doran worked ahead of hitters would be an understatement. To each of the first 16 batters he faced, the intimidating starter threw a first-pitch strike. The previous night's starter, Carlos Quevedo, threw first-pitch strikes to 15 of the first 16 opponents he had faced.
"We want [our pitchers] to be aggressive early in the count," Pankovits said. "We want to make them put it into play, not be afraid of contact and throw strikes. It's a lot harder to hit when you're behind in the count."
Fireballing righty Jorge De Leon was called on to attempt a two-inning save, and the converted shortstop made it five-sixths of the way there. However, De Leon walked a pair of Vermont batters with two outs in the ninth, bringing Stephen King up to bat with the tying run.
Michael Ness came on to strike out King on seven pitches, clinching the victory.
The ValleyCats (3-4) take on Vermont (5-2) in the rubber match of the series tomorrow night. Murilo Gouvea will start for the home team, while the Lake Monsters will send righty Matt Swynenberg to the mound.