The Renegades (24-15) couldn't overcome the league-leading ValleyCats (28-11) in either seven-inning game, and were nearly victims of a perfect game in the nightcap before a last-inning single broke the spell. Hudson Valley maintains control of the McNamara Division with Brooklyn's loss to Batavia.
In Game 1, the ValleyCats opened the scoring in the top of the second. Jesse Wierzbicki lined a single to left, and moved up to second when first baseman Michael Williams couldn't handle a pickoff attempt by starter Taylor Guerrieri (0-2). Tyler Heineman doubled Wierzbicki home, and scored himself on a one-out single from Jobduan Morales to run the score to 2-0.
The Renegades drew closer in the fifth inning. With one out, Tri-City starter Aaron West (5-0) hit both Williams and center fielder Joey Rickard on consecutive pitches to put runners on first and second. Second baseman Tommy Coyle singled through the left side with two outs, and brought home Williams to cut the Tri-City lead to 2-1.
The ValleyCats added more offense in the top of the sixth. Wierzbicki led off with a single to center, and Renegades reliever Shay Crawford plunked Heineman to put runners on first and second with no outs. Ryan Dineen advanced the runners with a sacrifice bunt, and Morales singled Wierzbicki home, moving Heineman to third. Preston Tucker blooped a single into left that plated Heineman and gave Tri-City a 4-1 lead.
Hudson Valley made a valiant effort in the bottom of the seventh. With one out, new catcher Jake DePew drew a walk from West, and Rickard singled him to second. Shaffer grounded a single through the middle that center fielder Andrew Aplin misplayed, allowing DePew to race home; Shaffer and Rickard wound up at second and third on the error. But Tri-City relievers Kenny Long and Blake Ford each got an out from the only batters they faced to end the threat and the ballgame at 4-2.
West notched a season-high nine strikeouts for his fifth win, while Guerrieri gave up only two runs over four innings for the loss; he allowed five hits and fanned one. Ford earned his eleventh save of the season.
In Game 2, Tri-City jumped out to the lead immediately. Joe Sclafani singled to left off starter Brandon Henderson (3-1) on the first pitch of the game, and moved to second on a one-out single from Aplin. Wierzbicki slammed a triple to center that scored both runners to give Tri-City the early 2-0 advantage.
The ValleyCats extended their advantage in the fifth inning. Jarrod McKinney walked with one out, and Emilio King tripled him home to build a 3-0 lead for Tri-City.
In the seventh inning, the ValleyCats broke the game wide open. McKinney led off with a single against reliever Marcus Jensen, and King singled him to second. A wild pitch from Jensen moved the runners to second and third, and Sclafani singled them both home, advancing to second on the throw. With one out, Aplin singled to bring home Sclafani. Reliever Dylan Floro came on to stop the bleeding, but allowed a single to Wierzbicki that moved Aplin to second. A 6-4 force-out advanced Aplin to third, and he came home on an RBI single by Dineen that made it 7-0 ValleyCats.
Tri-City starter Brian Holmes (4-1) entered the bottom of the seventh with a chance at just the third perfect game in league history, but Rickard staved off that ugly fate for Hudson Valley. He dropped a single to right field on the first pitch of the frame before the Renegades went down in order behind him to end the ballgame.
Holmes gave up just the one hit over seven innings, striking out six for his fourth win of the season. Henderson took the loss in the spot-start, making his longest appearance of the season at 4.1 innings. He gave up three runs on six hits and two walks while striking out two.
The Renegades will look to get back in the win column Saturday against the Williamsport Crosscutters, with righty Jeff Ames getting the ball for Hudson Valley. It's Show and Tell Night at the Dutch, and there'll be postgame fireworks as well! First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m., and Ben Gellman's pregame show begins at 6:50 p.m. on 1450 and 1370 AM WKIP as well as online at HVRenegades.com.