TROY, NY- It can be awfully hard to win two games in the same day. The Tri-City ValleyCats and Connecticut Tigers found that out on Saturday, as the two Stedler Division rivals split their single-gate doubleheader, with the Tigers taking the first game by a final of 5-1, and the 'Cats responding with a 4-0 win in game two.
Both teams struggled offensively for almost the entirety of both seven-inning games, save a three-run frame for each side. In the first game, the first time in 2013 the ValleyCats (10-3) lost at home, two two-run home runs for Connecticut (4-8) accounted for the difference. In the 5th inning, with Tri-City holding a 1-0 lead and one runner on base, Connecticut SS Javier Azcona took the first Tanner Bushue (1-1) offering he saw and drove it over the left field wall to give the Tigers the lead. That 2-1 score held up until the 7th inning, when the usually dominating Chia-Jen Lo appeared human for the first time all year, surrendering three runs, including a two-run shot off the bat of Tigers 3B Brett Harrison.
Alex Phillips (1-0) got off to a rough start, allowing an RBI single to the red-hot Dan Gulbransen in the first, but settled down to pick up the first win of his season after a six-inning, six hit outing, while stranding eight Tri-City runners on base. The ValleyCats mustered just six hits in the first game, tied for their fewest at home this year.
Game two started the way the first one ended for the 'Cats. 10 batters came to the plate before one reached for Tri-City, with a James Ramsay single with one out in the fourth ending the streak. After Ramsay's single, a Conrad Gregor walk and another Gulbransen RBI single plated the first run for Tri-City. After a wild pitch scored Gregor, Azcona booted a Michael Martinez grounder, allowing Gulbransen to score. Those three runs would be more than enough for the 'Cats, as the Tigers never truly threatened to score. Adrian Houser (1-0) received his first win with the team after a very strong four innings of work. He allowed just four singles, no walks, and struck out two. It was the first Tri-City shutout of the season.
Luis Alvarez provided an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth, connecting on a line drive home run to left field, his first of the season. Outside of the 4th and 6th, the innings the ValleyCats scored in, the lineup totaled just two hits. The team's streak of five straight home games with at least eight runs scored game to an end Saturday night. Other streaks that were halted with the loss in game one were the team marks of 7-0 when scoring first, as well as 9-0 when scoring at all.
With his 3-for-7 line between the two games, Dan Gulbransen increased his batting average to .400. That total is good for second in the New-York Penn League, behind only Avery Romero (BAT), who is hitting .410. The second-year 'Cats outfielder is also second in the league with 11 RBI, tied four others. After getting hits in both games, Gulbransen now has an eight-game hitting streak.
The 'Cats and Tigers wrap up the series and Tri-City's homestand tomorrow, with the first pitch scheduled for 5:00. The probable starters are RHP Michael Feliz (1-0, 0.90) for the ValleyCats and LHP Preston Jamison (0-1, 2.57) for the Tigers. It's the first "Sunday Funday" of 2013 at "The Joe", as fans are welcomed to have a catch on the field before the game, in addition to kids being invited to run the bases after the final out. It's also Hall of Fame Night, as representatives from the Baseball Hall of Fame will be on hand with special items taken directly from the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.