Desperate for a rally to keep their season alive, Hudson Valley turned to some small ball in the bottom of the eighth inning. Then Richie Shaffer changed the strategy.
"Someone just had to get the big hit," he said.
The 2012 first-round Draft pick slugged a go-ahead three-run homer in the eighth Wednesday to send the Renegades past Tri-City, 5-2, and force a decisive third game in the New York-Penn League Championship Series.
Joel Caminero opened the eighth with a single and was sacrificed to second by Joey Rickard. ValleyCats manager Stubby Clapp had reliever Jamaine Cotton intentionally walk Tom Coyle to face Shaffer, selected 25th overall by the Rays in June.
That's when the Clemson University product swung for the fences.
"I just tried to simplify things, come through for my team and see the ball," Shaffer told The Poughkeepsie Journal. "We knew that was all we had to do was take it one game at a time, try to get this [to] Game 3."
Hudson Valley was helpless for much of the evening as Tri-City's Aaron West carried a perfect game into the sixth. Jake DePew broke it up by reaching on an error and Caminero ended the no-hitter with a one out single before Coyle delivered a game-tying two-run base hit.
"Tommy came through with that big hit to break the ice for us and get us some runs," Shaffer told the newspaper. "The pitchers did a great job to keep it at two."
Renegades manager Jared Sandberg said he hasn't picked a starter for Thursday's Game 3 -- he's still marveling at the Game 2 drama.
"A big hit by Coyle to tie the game, then Shaffer with the big home run," Sandberg told the newspaper. "I was talking about [Leonardo] Reginatto having a memory for the rest of his life, hitting the home run [Tuesday] to tie the game. But Richie Shaffer, he's going to have many more of those home runs, but that's going to be one he's never going to forget."
Shaffer, a 21-year-old third baseman, batted .308 with four homers, 26 RBIs and a .406 on-base percentage in 33 regular-season games. He received a $1.71 million signing bonus Tampa Bay after becoming the first player in Clemson history to be named first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference at two different infield positions (first and third).
Tri-City took a lead in the first on Preston Tucker's RBI double, then tacked on a run when Ryan Dineen doubled leading off the fifth and scored on Joe Sclafani's sacrifice fly.
Renegades starter Jesse Hahn gave up two runs -- one earned -- on four hits and three walks over five frames, striking out four.
Alex Moshier (1-0) got the win with a scoreless eighth and Ryan Garton struck out two in the ninth for his second playoff save.
West fanned six over six innings and was charged with two runs on two hits without a walk. Cotton allowed three runs on three hits and two walks over two frames.
The teams will meet again Thursday at Hudson Valley. Tri-City, an Astros affilate, is seeking its second crown in three years, while the Renegades have not won the title since 1999.