The Tri-City bullpen uncharacteristically blew a late lead, but the hitters stepped up. With the game tied in the eighth inning, Dan Adamson bombed a two-out home run well over the fence in left-center. The ValleyCats tacked on an insurance run and Jorge De Leon nailed down the save, sealing an 8-6 victory.
Coming off a 10-2 victory over Connecticut last night, the ValleyCats won consecutive games for the first time this season.
Ben Orloff again catalyzed the Tri-City offense from the leadoff position. Orloff drew a first-inning walk off Batavia starter Kevin Siegrist, took second on a wild pitch and stole third. He scored on a bases-loaded walk by Oscar Figueroa - Siegrist's fourth free pass of the inning.
Orloff also played a key role in the fifth inning, doubling home Frank Almonte. The shortstop came around to score when Enrique Hernandez followed with a single up the middle.
"[Orloff] has been huge for us," manager Jim Pankovits said. "It's no coincidence that we've been winning a little more regularly since he's been in the lineup. You have to like the way he plays - he plays hard, he's a smart kid, and he's very versatile."
Almonte also contributed to the offensive outburst early on. With two outs in the third inning, he blasted a deep fly to right field. The ball appeared catchable off the bat, but the wind took it well over the right-field fence. The dinger also brought home Ben Heath, giving the 'Cats a 3-1 lead.
The hosts managed another run in the fourth inning. Wilton Infante led off with a single, but appeared stranded when Mike Kvasnicka hit a two-out dribbler back to the mound. However, reliever Chris Corrigan lobbed the ball well over the first baseman's head, bringing home Infante with Tri-City's fourth run.
The ValleyCats had opportunities to put the game away but could not extend the lead further. They stranded eight runners in the first four innings and 12 for the game.
The Tri-City bullpen has been its biggest strength all year, so it came as a surprise when it let starter Robert Doran down on Sunday night. Doran was removed after surrendering two runs on three hits and a wild pitch in the fifth inning. With the 'Cats maintaining a 6-3 lead, he was still in line for his first win of the season.
Alex Sogard held the lead with a perfect sixth inning, but the Muckdogs got one back in the seventh when Raniel Rosario led off the inning with a low line drive into the Tri-City bullpen in left field. Rosario had entered the game on defense in the previous half-inning.
When he entered the game in the eighth inning, Joan Belliard boasted a spotless ERA, and opponents were hitting just .103 off him for the season. Joey Bergman led off the inning with a line-drive single up the middle, but Belliard fanned the next batter, Geoff Klein. He was not as lucky with Jon Rodriguez, who hit a moonshot over the left-field bullpen, tying the game at 6-6.
Knuckleballer Houston Summers puzzled the 'Cats for two scoreless innings, but was pulled in favor of LaCurtis Mayes in the bottom of the eighth. Mayes retired the first two hitters, setting the stage for Adamson's fateful blast.
"I was just up there looking for a good pitch to hit, and I got it," Adamson said. "The bullpen has been good all year, and it was good for us to finally get some hits and score some runs for them."
Figueroa, Almonte and catcher Buck Afenir each followed with singles, the last of which plated Figueroa to provide the final margin.
The audience of 6,124 fans was the third-most ever to attend a ValleyCats game. The four largest crowds in franchise history have all come on Independence Day.
"It's definitely cool to see the seats full - it gets the adrenaline flowing," said Orloff, who went 3-for-3. "The fans here are awesome. Especially on the Fourth of July, they always pack the house."
"It was an exciting game and a great atmosphere to play in," Pankovits said. "Hopefully the people that came here enjoyed it and will come back, because they were a big factor in the win tonight. It puts pressure on the other team, and it pumps up our kids."
The ValleyCats improve to 7-10 with the victory, while the Muckdogs fall to the same. Batavia returns to "The Joe" tomorrow night at 6 pm, sending Andrew Moss (2-1, 1.69 ERA) to the hill against Murillo Gouvea (0-2, 10.32).