Last time the 'Cats played at "The Joe," they hosted the Brooklyn Cyclones in the NYPL Championship Series. Tri-City won 5-2 and beat Brooklyn 5-1 in the second game to win the first league title in franchise history. The championship banner will be unveiled before Friday's game to commemorate the achievements of last year's team.
Tri-City went 38-36 last season, coming from 9.5 games behind to win the Stedler Division on the final day of the regular season. The first-place finish snapped a streak of three consecutive seasons in the basement of the four-team division.
Right-handed pitcher Juri Perez will start for the hosts on Friday. Perez, a 20-year-old from the Dominican Republic, missed most of 2010 while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and made two starts at Class-A Lexington this spring, allowing seven earned runs in 3.1 innings. He struck out 60 batters in 51.2 innings at Greeneville as an 18-year-old in 2009.
The Lake Monsters counter with righty Seth Frankoff, who also had an unsuccessful stint in Single-A earlier this year, lasting just 12 innings in five starts with an 11.25 ERA.
Vermont finished with a 36-38 record in 2010, suffering major roster changes and tailing off badly after starting the season on a remarkable 14-3 run. The Lake Monsters changed affiliations in the offseason, switching their parent club from the Washington Nationals to the Oakland Athletics, who previously did not have a team in the NY-Penn League.
The ValleyCats open the season at home for the second consecutive year after three seasons on the road. In 2010, the 'Cats won 4-3 on Oscar Figueroa's walk-off double, snapping a five-game losing streak on Opening Day. Tri-City would go on to win seven games in their last at-bat at Joe Bruno Stadium, including an 11th-inning walk-off homer to beat Batavia in the playoffs.
Tri-City went 5-5 against the Lake Monsters last year and leads the all-time series 58-50.
The ValleyCats will give away magnetic schedules to all fans, and families will have the opportunity to win special baseball experiences on the first of three FRITOS Family Fridays. Berm seating is still available for Friday night's opener, which will be followed by fireworks.