The seven runs scored represent a season high for Tri-City, which matched last night's offensive outburst with ten base hits. A pair of slumping ValleyCats each had big nights, as Nick Stanley and Adam Bailey each contributed three hits apiece.
But the pitching staff, which has been so solid for the 'Cats this season, had a rare off night. They gave up nine runs on 17 hits, both season highs. The Tri-City bullpen came into the game with a miniscule 0.70 ERA, but the Lake Monsters touched it for six runs in the in the final five innings.
"It's a tough loss, but we have to build on the positives," catcher Ben Heath said. "We didn't walk a lot of guys, but Vermont came out and swung the bats well. The pitchers have proven that they're going to be good, and they're going to give us a chance every night."
The ValleyCats' hopes were dim in the top of the eighth. The home team trailed 6-4, and two runners were in scoring position after Marcus Jones's one-out double. But Joan Belliard sent Connor Rowe down swinging, bringing up lefty Chad Mozinga. Southpaw Adam Champion was called from the bullpen to maintain the platoon advantage, and he battled through a seven-pitch at-bat, retiring Mozinga on a harmless grounder back to the mound.
Moments later, Adam Bailey tied the game with a monster home run to right. Bailey's home run easily cleared the second fence beyond the visitors' bullpen, bringing home Dan Adamson to make the score 6-6.
"I talked to [hitting coach Joel Chimelis] earlier, and he changed my swing a little bit," said Bailey, who came into the game with just a pair of singles on the season. "I said I'd try it out tonight, and I guess that's why he gets paid."
With one out in the ninth, Stephen King lined Champion's first pitch just over the left-field wall, clearing a leaping Renzo Tello's glove by mere inches and again giving Vermont the lead. An Enrique Hernandez line drive found Jones's glove in right field and Mike Kvasnicka grounded out to second, leaving the hosts down to their last out.
But with their backs against the wall, the ValleyCats again found life. Heath took a 1-0 fastball over the Tri-City bullpen in left field, a no-doubter home run to tie the game and send 3,863 fans into a frenzy. Reliever Dustin Crane recovered to retire Tello, sending the ValleyCats and Lake Monsters to extra innings for the second time in three days.
"You're really just trying to get on base in that situation, but you're looking to take a shot if you get a good pitch early in the count," Heath said. "Fortunately I was able to get a good pitch, and I took a swing at it."
Vermont would not relent in the tenth inning. Cole Leonida singled off Champion to start the inning before reliever Andrew Robinson got a pair of quick outs. But Connor Rowe singled and the next two Lake Monsters followed suit, plating a pair of runs.
Adam Bailey's two-out double in the bottom of the frame brought the tying run to the plate, but the ValleyCats could not complete another comeback. Crane fanned pinch-hitter Tyler Burnett, his third strikeout of the inning, to clinch the victory.
Early in the game, it did not seem likely that a shootout would emerge. The teams traded sacrifice flies and were otherwise scoreless, tied at 1-1 after four innings. But the Lake Monsters produced some fireworks in the fifth inning, as starting pitcher Murillo Gouvea gave up a double to Jones and then a longball to Connor Rowe.
Four hits in the top of the sixth allowed Vermont to tack on a pair of insurance runs.
Tri-City cut a four-run deficit in half in the seventh inning. Bailey, Wilton Infante and Enrique Hernandez each singled up the middle, the last of which drove in a run. Kvasnicka followed with a sacrifice fly, making the score 6-4.
Vermont starter Matt Swynenberg pitched well enough to earn his second victory of the season, throwing five innings of one-run ball. But Tri-City's offensive resurgence against the Lake Monsters' bullpen deprived him of the honor.
The ValleyCats smacked 20 hits in their last two games, equaling their total from their previous four. Right fielder Adam Bailey came into the game hitting just 2-for-11 but had three hits on Friday night for seven total bases.
"Before the season started, I thought we'd hit with some power," manager Jim Pankovits said. "We've got some guys who can hit the ball a long way. The offense finally came around, and we swing the bats pretty well tonight."
Stanley also came into the game on a cold streak, with only one hit in his first 12 at-bats. But the veteran first baseman also picked up three hits tonight, the last of which drove in Kvasnicka. He added a few nice plays in the field, including a sliding backhand in the fourth inning.
"It was nice to see Nick get a few hits," said Pankovits. "Nobody works harder than he does."
With the loss, Tri-City falls to 3-5, while division-leading Vermont improves to 6-2. The ValleyCats remain in Troy for this weekend, playing a pair of games against Lowell (3-5). The series starts Saturday at 7 pm.