AUBURN, N.Y. - The Auburn Doubledays (0-1) began their New York - Penn League Semi-final matchup against the Tri-City ValleyCats with a 5-4 loss on Friday night in front of 1,832 at Falcon Park. With the loss the Doubledays have lost three of four games against the ValleyCats this summer.
Tri-City scored a run in the top of the seventh, which proved to be the game winner. Back-to-back singles began the inning, putting runners on first and second with no outs. Shortstop Joe Sclafani then grounded into a fielder's choice that retired the lead runner at third, meaning there were still runners at first and second, but with one out. That's when 2B Austin Elkins stepped to the plate, and he delivered a fly ball single to right, which drove home CF Emilio King from second to make it 5-4.
Auburn threatened in the ninth, loading the bases with two outs while facing five different pitchers in the frame. However, LF Estarlin Martinez grounded into a fielder's choice putout at second to end the ballgame. The Doubledays had tied the score at 4-4 in the fifth thanks to two Tri-City mistakes. With 1B Shawn Pleffner standing at first, Martinez reached first on a throwing error by ValleyCats 3B Ryan Dineen, which allowed Pleffner to move from first to third. Pleffner wound up scoring from third on a balk called on RHP Aaron West.
Both teams put up multiple runs in the fourth. The ValleyCats plated three in the top half of the frame, taking a 4-1 advantage. First baseman Jesse Wierzbicki lead off with a walk. He moved to second when catcher Tyler Heineman reached base on a sac bunt that was accompanied by a throwing error by LHP Brett Mooneyham. DH Mike Cokinos then singled to right, driving in Wierzbicki. Doubledays RF Wander Ramos misplayed the ball in right, costing him an error and allowing Heineman to score as well. Cokinos came around to score on a single from LF Jarrod McKinney.
Auburn responded with two runs in the bottom half of the fourth. Ramos walked with one out in the inning, and that was followed by a single to right by CF Narciso Mesa. Both runners wound up scoring from scoring position with two outs on a double by catcher Spencer Kieboom. During the regular season Kieboom hit .391 with runners in scoring position and two outs.
It was the Doubledays who took the initial 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Back-to-back singles by 3B Mike McQuillan and 2B Tony Renda began the inning. Both runners advanced a base on a groundout to first by Pleffner, and then McQuillan scored on a groundout to second by Martinez. The ValleyCats got their first run in the third thanks to a two-out RBI double by Sclafani.
RHP Michael Boyden (0-1) suffered the loss for Auburn, despite only allowing one run in three innings. Mooneyham started and pitched five innings, allowing fours run (two earned) on four hits and three walks. RHP Juri Perez (1-0) picked up the win for Tri-City. He threw 3.1 innings in relief without allowing a run. RHP Travis Ballew recorded the final out of the game to earn the save.
The Doubledays will play game 2 of their New York - Penn League semi-final match-up against Tri-City in Troy, NY on Saturday September 8. First pitch is scheduled for 7:00pm. Auburn will send RHP David Fisher to the mound. He will go up against RHP Brady Rodgers for the ValleyCats. The game can be heard on WAUB 98.1FM and 1590AM, and online at www.fingerlakesdailynews.com by clicking on the WAUB stream under the "listen" tab.