The visitors struck early and struck hard, knocking starting pitcher Murillo Gouvea out of the game in the first inning. Star centerfielder Nick Longmire took Gouvea's fourth offering into the Tri-City bullpen to lead off the game, and the Brazilian righty could not recover. Gouvea walked two batters and gave up two more base hits, as well as a sacrifice fly to the warning track in center field. The score was 3-0 when he left the game, and reliever Brendan Stines's wild pitch brought home a fourth run, charged to the starter.
"The tone wasn't set very well by Gouvea - falling behind 4-0 didn't help," manager Jim Pankovits said. "But we had a chance to get back in it with the bases loaded and no outs - we did get one run but we could have scored two or three more. We let them off the hook."
Tri-City also benefitted from a struggling opponent, but could not make as much of it. Batavia starter Andrew Moss came into the game with a sparkling 1.69 ERA after throwing seven perfect innings in his last outing. Moss had issued just one walk in 16 innings on the season, so it came as a shock when he walked the first four ValleyCats, forcing in a run and loading the bases.
Moss worked out of the jam, however, inducing a soft grounder back to the mound by Tyler Burnett and recording the force out at home, then getting Dan Adamson to ground into a double play. He was nearly untouchable after that, taking a no-hitter into the fifth inning until Oscar Figueroa's one-out bloop single.
The Muckdogs tagged Stines for a run in the third when catcher Audry Perez singled home Adam Melker, but would need help for their other scores. In the fifth, Melker reached safely when third baseman Tyler Burnett came up empty reaching for a grounder to his left, and Raniel Rosario followed with a single. Audry Perez hit a clean base hit to center, where Dan Adamson bobbled the ball, then threw it into the Tri-City dugout. The errors allowed Rosario to follow Melker home.
Perez drove in four runs, and was the batter when two more scored on errors.
Down 7-1 in the sixth inning, the 'Cats would not go down without a fight. Mike Kvasnicka hit a line drive to right field for the hosts' first clean hit of the game. After a Tyler Burnett walk, Dan Adamson drilled a one-hopper to the wall in right-center for a stand-up triple. His second three-bagger of the season knocked Moss out of the game.
Travis Lawler escaped the jam with no further damage, but would not be as lucky in the seventh. Enrique Hernandez reached base on a single and Kvasnicka walked, bringing up Ben Heath. The catcher capped the two-out rally with a fly ball that caught the wind and carried into the visitors' bullpen, cutting the lead to 7-6. Heath is now tied for the New York-Penn League lead with four homers.
Lefty reliever Travis Blankenship fanned Colin Walsh to escape a jam in the eighth inning, but worked into some trouble in the ninth frame. The southpaw allowed a leadoff single to Joey Bergman and walked Jon Rodriguez. After a sacrifice bunt, Andrew Robinson was called upon to intentionally walk Rosario and set up the force. Robinson performed his duty, inducing a two-hopper to the shortstop from Perez, but Hernandez's relay throw from second bounced over Nick Stanley's glove, allowing two runs to score.
Closer Jose Rada issued a two-out walk to Hernandez but froze Kvasnicka with a curveball to end the game. Rada earned his fourth save of the year.
The ValleyCats committed four errors, their most to date. The seven walks issued by Tri-City pitchers tied their season high.
The 'Cats (7-11) look to bounce back with a better effort tomorrow night at Joe Bruno Stadium when they meet the Muckdogs (8-10) again to cap a six-game homestand. The game starts at 7 pm, but the gates will be open at 5 pm for "Tunes for Tuesday," a country music concert featuring Skeeter Creek.