After managing only 11 hits in the first two games, the 'Cats (6-5) racked up nine on Tuesday, three of which went for extra bases. The Tigers (5-5) outhit the hosts, smacking 14 hits and drawing two walks, but clutch strikeouts and key defensive plays forced Connecticut to strand 10 runners on base.
"Luck was on our side tonight," outfielder Brandon Meredith said. "We hit balls hard last night, but we just weren't finding holes ... tonight they were."
The ValleyCats struck first to take their first lead of the series, snapping an 11-inning scoreless streak with a pair of runs in the second. Meredith's opposite-field double moved Zach Johnson over to third base, allowing him to mark the scoreboard on a wild pitch by Luis Sanz. Catcher Miles Hamblin followed with another two-bagger, plating Meredith to put the hosts ahead 2-0.
Tri-City managed more of the same in the next inning. Three singles, the last a run-scoring hit to right field by Johnson, were followed by a wild pitch, doubling the ValleyCats' lead.
Starting pitcher Juri Perez extended his shutout streak to eight innings, dating back to Thursday's victory, but the Tigers finally figured him out in the top of the fourth. Colin Kaline's fly ball to left caught the wind and went for a double, and a pair of two-out line drives also went for two bases, scoring two Connecticut runs.
The ValleyCats answered with insurance runs in the next two innings, however. Justin Gominsky led off the bottom of the fifth with a single and scored in the next at-bat, moving station-to-station on a balk, wild pitch and Drew Muren's groundout. In the sixth, John Hinson's leadoff single was followed by Meredith's second double of the day, bringing in another run.
Tri-City retired only one batter in the sixth inning but escaped the frame with some outstanding defense. Matt Duffy snared a bases-loaded line drive and beat Jason King back to third base for a double play; on the next pitch, Patrick Leyland looked to have an RBI single, but Meredith's throw easily beat Samir Rijo to the plate, ending the inning.
Meredith became the third ValleyCats outfielder to throw out a runner at the plate in the last two games.
"All of our outfielders can throw the ball," manager Stubby Clapp said. "You see them throw, and they speak for themselves ... it's fun to watch, it's comforting to see as a coach and it has to be comforting to see as a pitching staff."
Three soft singles netted Connecticut a run in the seventh, but the visitors still trailed by three runs entering their final at-bat. Leadoff hits by Javier Azcona and Chad Wright brought the tying run to the plate before Cole induced two quick outs.
Shortstop Neiko Johnson fielded a tough grounder to his right but threw wide to first, extending the game for Dean Green's single, which plated Wright to close the gap to one run. Holm swung at the first pitch Holm offered, sending it into the cloudy sky for the final out.
In two starts during the homestand, Perez pitched ten innings, allowing two runs and one walk while striking out 16 batters.
Duffy has reached base safely in all 11 games the 'Cats have played this season, singling and scoring in the third.
With the victory, the ValleyCats avoided a sweep at the hands of the Tigers and completed a 4-2 homestand.
"It's important not to get swept by any team, especially at home in front of your crowd," outfielder Brandon Meredith said. "It's good to get a win, and we're headed on the road tomorrow, so we're looking forward to getting a win there too."
The 'Cats now travel to Lowell for a three-game series. Tri-City swept three games from the Spinners earlier in this homestand.
"You're always going to have confidence, knowing that you beat them three times, but they're also going to want to beat you that much more," Gominsky said of the rematch. "It's nice, but we're going to be ready for them."