TROY, NY- For the fourth straight game, the Tri-City ValleyCats struggled to put together the multi-run inning that they used to their advantage so often in the early part of the season, as they lost to the Lowell Spinners, 4-2. It was just the 2nd loss at home for the 'Cats in 2013.
Scoring two or fewer runs for the 4th straight game, Tri-City stranded runners in scoring position in every inning from the 5th-8th, as the team left six runners in total. Ultimately, a three-run rally by the Spinners in the 4th inning proved to be enough against a lackluster offensive performance from the home team.
That decisive 4th inning for Lowell started with one out, as Reed Gragnani reached with a single. After he stole second and went to third on a throwing error by 'Cats catcher Ernesto Genoves, Jake Romanski walked, setting the stage for Lowell 2B Cleuluis Rondon. Rondon promptly lined a Kevin Comer (2-1) offering to the wall in right-center, and went third after both runners had scored, putting the Spinners on top, 2-0. After Comer was relived by Charles Basford, Rondon scored on an RBI single from William Jerez.
The 'Cats responded with a run in each of the next two innings, but let a golden opportunity slide right by them in the bottom of the 5th. With the bases loaded and no one out, Tri-City 2B Tony Kemp bounced into his second straight double play, which is unusual for Kemp, considering his great speed. A run scored, but that is all that would cross for Tri-City in the inning. It would prove to be the last time the 'Cats would score on Thursday night off of Lowell starter Ty Buttrey (2-1).
The score remained 3-2 unitl the 8th, when Gragnani lined his fourth hit of the game, a double, into left-center, bringing home a much-needed insurance run for Lowell, which improved to 10-6 after earning its 4th straight win. The ValleyCats suffered their second loss in a row, marking their first losing streak in 2013, and fell to 12-6, just one game ahead of the Spinners. The 'Cats had previously won four of the five games between the two teams before Thursday.
A sellout crowd of 6, 384 stayed all the way until the end to see if the hometown side would come back, only to see the comeback fall short. Another large crowd is expected for Friday night's ball game, as 2013 #1 overall draft pick Mark Appel will take the mound for his first professional start. Appel signed with the Astros on June 19th, and was assigned to Tri-City earlier this week. Appel will be opposed by RHP Sergio Gomez (1-1, 1.15). Only standing room seating is left for Appel's debut, and are available for purchase by calling 518-629-2297, or coming to the Joseph L. Bruno Stadium box office.