Then Clapp - normally reserved in his first season as a pro manager - boiled over. A slam of his helmet earned an ejection, but he was not through. Clapp, perhaps feeling the frustrations of a two-game losing streak, argued with both umpires, kicked dirt on home plate and tossed a couple bats onto the field from the dugout.
"We had the same call against us last week, and it went the other way," Clapp said. "There's no rhyme or reason behind [the outburst] ... it just happens in the heat of the moment. I'm sure there's a lot of frustration - I hate losing, and at that time, he was jeopardizing our team from winning."
The outburst seemed to motivate the team initially. Back-to-back singles by Drew Muren and Neiko Johnson drove in three runs, breaking a streak of futility with the bases loaded and giving the 'Cats a 3-1 lead. But the visiting Doubledays went back ahead in the next inning and blew the game open in the ninth inning, completing the sweep with a 13-6 victory.
The 'Cats, meanwhile, rebounded from a two-hit night on Sunday to get 11 safeties and two homers in the finale. But the Doubledays collected 18 hits, led by a 4-for-5, four-RBI effort from designated hitter Matt Skole, to reach double digits for the third time in the three-game series.
Tri-City led by two scores entering the fourth inning, but the Doubledays scored four runs - only one earned - in the frame, knocking Jonas Dufek out of the game before the sixth for the first time in a month.
The visitors added an insurance run in the sixth and two in the seventh, including a solo homer by Roberto Perez, who entered the game as a pinch-runner for an injured Hendry Jimenez. But the 'Cats battled back in the bottom of the seventh, which Duffy led off with a double. Outfielder Brandon Meredith drove a high fly ball well over the left-center-field fence for his first professional home run.
"It felt good," Meredith said. "It's been a long time coming ... it felt really good off the bat, and I finally got one."
Bubby Williams homered off the scoreboard in the eighth inning, bringing the 'Cats within two runs. But Auburn scored five times in the ninth, including an opposite-field grand slam from No. 9 hitter Billy Burns, to put away the game.
The 'Cats loaded the bases in the second inning but could not score a run for the second time in the series. After Justin Gominsky doubled to lead off the third inning, Duffy was hit by the fateful 0-2 pitch.
"It was just a bad call," Clapp said. "I gave them a couple series, but it was time to let them know that they needed to improve. It wasn't about the display, but I wanted to let them know that I wasn't happy about their calls."
The call proved completely inconsequential, as Duffy was hit on the foot three pitches later and took his base. Zach Johnson walked to load the bases, but Meredith struck out looking, one of many unproductive outs with runners in scoring position the 'Cats have suffered recently.
Muren picked up his teammate with a line drive to center field, plating Gominsky. Neiko Johnson, who finished 2-for-3 with a walk, laced a line drive into the gap in left-center to bring home two more runs.
But although the 'Cats had more offense than in recent games, they could not match the Doubledays' firepower.
Tri-City hits the road for three games at Jamestown, a rare event in a stretch involving 15 of 20 games at Joe Bruno Stadium. The ValleyCats return to "The Joe" for two games against division-leading Vermont beginning Friday, August 5 at 7 p.m.