The 'Cats - who swept their first doubleheader since August 27, 2004 - improve to 24-31 on the season, while the Renegades fall to 27-27.
For the fourth time in three nights, the ValleyCats fell behind in the top of the first inning, as league RBIs leader Jeff Malm doubled home the leadoff hitter and later scored to begin the opener. But the 'Cats answered right back, spanking five hits in their half of the frame. Third baseman Matt Duffy, fresh off a four-hit, four-RBI performance on Thursday, brought home Justin Gominsky with a single to the left side, and Zach Johnson's sacrifice fly knotted the score at 2-2.
The next two ValleyCats reached base, loading the bases with two outs for catcher Ryan McCurdy. The righty turned on the first pitch he saw and drilled it down the line, rolling to the fence in foul territory as all three runners scored.
"When the bases are loaded, you look for something early in the count, because he's trying to make a good pitch early," McCurdy said. "I knew it was fair, and I was glad to see the third baseman had no play on it, so I was just hoping the guys would get running and it worked out."
McCurdy was hit by a pitch in the fifth inning and drove two other pitches to the left side, a lineout struck directly at left fielder Cesar Guillen and a clean single in the sixth. The catcher is batting .328 in a part-time role during his second season in Troy.
Champion, meanwhile, retired 11 consecutive batters until a one-out Guillen single in the fifth inning. The lefty remained in the game through the sixth, setting a career high in innings pitched for the third consecutive outing and earning his third straight victory. Champion struck out a career-high five batters and did not issue a walk after the first inning.
"The big pitch for me was my sinker. They kept beating it into the ground ... it's easy baseball when you just throw to a spot and keep pitching," Champion said. "The first inning didn't go the way I wanted it to, but I got through that inning and stayed focused through the sixth."
After sending 10 batters to the plate in the opening frame, the 'Cats batted around again in the fifth. Two different Renegades pitchers put the first four ValleyCats on base - one hit batsman and three walks - capped by Neiko Johnson's run-scoring free pass on four pitches. After the visitors got one out, Valenzuela drove a ground ball over the third-base bag and all the way into the left-field corner, clearing the bases with another three-run double.
Valenzuela had three hits in the opener and doubled again in his first at-bat of the second game, extending his hit streak to 12 games. Since joining the team on August 2, the infielder is hitting .429, hitting safely every time he has played.
"I was just trying to find a good pitch to put a good swing on and help my team out, and I was lucky to do that today," Valenzuela said. "I'm putting some good swings on the ball, and they're finding some holes."
The ValleyCats drew five walks in the fifth inning alone and nine in the game, led by three apiece from outfielders Chris Epps and Drew Muren.
Tri-City gave up the first run of the second game, as Kyle Holloway was hit by his first pitch and scored on a two-out passed ball. But the 'Cats struck back in the third, taking advantage of some good fortune. Jacke Healey and Neiko Johnson singled, and the first pitch to Gominsky hit the dirt. Healey took for third, and catcher Kyle Holloway had a play, but his throw sailed into left field. Healey came home, Johnson took off for second ... and kept running, as left fielder Cesar Guillen slipped trying to corral the ball. Johnson scored without a throw, giving the 'Cats a 2-1 lead.
"We've been saying, we need that one little thing to go our way, and that's what happened," Clapp said. "Jacke made a great read on that pitch, it caused some action to happen and we got two runs out of it."
Walter struggled to find the zone - walking two batters and hitting three others, including Holloway twice - but was nearly unhittable when he did, fanning five against one hit. He was lifted one batter into the fourth inning for lefty Travis Blankenship, who allowed a second hit but induced a double-play ball to get out of the jam.
Blankenship pitched without incident in the fifth and sixth innings, preserving the one-run lead for closer Ryan Cole. After a soft lineout, Cole allowed singles to Tanner Biagini and Brian Bryles, putting runners on the corners with one out.
Chris Winder put his first ball in play of the night, a slow grounder towards third that Matt Duffy fielded cleanly. Pinch-runner Leonardo Reginatto, caught too far off the bag, decided to break for home. A simple, two-throw rundown put out Reginatto, getting the second out of the inning.
Muren ran down a Juniel Querecuto fly ball in deep right-center field to complete the sweep.
Despite wins from division foes Vermont and Connecticut, the 'Cats picked up a half-game in the Stedler Division standings, now trailing the Lake Monsters by 3.5 games. They will try to close that gap further as the Renegades return to "The Joe" for a single game tomorrow at 7 p.m.