TROY, NY - ValleyCats starter Kyle Westwood gave Tri-City a huge lift in his seven innings of work as the 'Cats dispatched the Brooklyn Cyclones 3-1 on Labor Day. The win keeps the 'Cats at the top of the Stedler Division for one more day with two games to go. The Lowell Spinners lost in Aberdeen, so the 'Cats magic number now stands at one game. A 'Cats victory or Spinners loss will clinch a Stedler Division title for the 'Cats, which would be their second straight.
The Cyclones struck first in the top of the second inning. Jared King would leadoff the inning with a single and would be pushed to third on an infield single from Alex Sanchez. Tyler White fielded the groundball from Sanchez in the hole between third base and shortstop and threw the ball to second to try and get the lead runner, but King was easily safe. Second baseman Ryan Dineen tried to flip the ball quickly to first base, but the throw sailed into the Cyclones dugout. Brooklyn had runners on second and third with only one out.
Manager Ed Romero brought the infield in, which panned out after a ground out by Matt Oberste. Juan Gamboa would single to right field to plate King, but Ronnie Mitchell threw a laser to home to gun down Sanchez. Gamboa's single was the last hit for the Cyclones.
Tri-City tied the game in the fourth. White and Gregor would start the inning with back-to-back singles to put 'Cats on the corners with no outs. Ronnie Mitchell hit his first sac fly of the night to tie the score.
Westwood kept the ValleyCats in the game with his performance Monday evening. He did not allow a hit after the second and kept the Cyclones off the bases after the third inning. The right-hander set down the final 13 Cyclones in a row, but did not factor in the decision. He went seven innings, allowed three hits, one run (unearned), walked one, and struck out four.
"I had pretty good control of my fastball, throwing it where I wanted," said Westwood. "I knew how to attack them. I executed my game plan and it worked out well tonight."
"He was outstanding," said Manager Ed Romero about his starter. "He went out there and battled. You can't ask for anything more."
Westwood finished the night around 70's pitches. Romero said he wanted to save Westwood for a possible playoff run, hence why Kyle was removed with such a low pitch count.
Tri-City's offense came through with a big blow in the bottom of the eighth. Cristian Chivilli relieved David Wynn to start the inning and gave up a single to Dineen and a double to White to relinquish the lead. The 'Cats tacked on another run on Mitchell's second sac-fly, giving the ValleyCats a 3-1 lead.
The ValleyCats bullpen was perfect Monday night, setting down all six men it faced. Charles Basford got the win for his stellar eighth inning, while Tyler Brunnemann set down the side in order to get his second save. The 'Cats pitching staff retired 19-straight batters to end the game.
Tri-City and Brooklyn square off in game two Tuesday night at 6 pm. 'Cats send RHP Evan Grills to the mound, who will look to help the 'Cats clinch a Stedler Division title. It's Oktoberfest at the ballpark with enough 'brats and baseball for everyone. Tickets are still available at tcvalleycats.com or by calling 518-629-CATS.