TROY, NY - The Tri-City ValleyCats got another dominate pitching performance Tuesday night, this time from Evan Grills, as the 'Cats dispatched the Brooklyn Cyclones 6-3. The win also locked up the Stedler Division for the second straight year.
"The Astros are rebuilding and are committed to winning," said outfielder Ronnie Mitchell. "It's great to be able to win back-to-back division titles."
James Ramsay jolted the ValleyCats offense immediately in the bottom of the first with a double. The next two 'Cats, Ryan Dineen and Tyler White, singled to drive in Ramsay. Tri-City would tack on another on two errors by Brooklyn.
The Cyclones touched up Grills in the top of the second. Brooklyn started the inning with three straight singles to score its first run. Ismael Tijerina hit a groundball to Conrad Gregor, which Gregor misplayed, to tie the game 2-2.
Tri-City answered in the bottom of the inning with a little bit of small ball. Catcher Jake Rodriguez walked to start the inning, would be pushed to second on a sacrifice bunt, and ended on third after a groundout to the right side of the infield. Rodriguez scored on a wild pitch by Cyclones starter John Gant. The 'Cats would never surrender the lead.
Grills pitched six brilliant innings, allowed two runs, and fanned eight. At one point, the Canada native struck out six-out-of-seven batters.
"The way we played the last few games, the last two or three days, I had a lot of confidence [the ValleyCats would make the playoffs]," said Manager Ed Romero. "They toughened up when they had to. That was a good sign."
The ValleyCats padded the lead in the bottom of the third. Ronnie Mitchell hit a two-RBI triple to right field and a sac-fly by Chan Moon gave the 'Cats a four-run lead.
Gonzalo Sanudo remained perfect in save opportunities with his 1.2 innings of work.
Tri-City needed a win or a Spinners loss to qualify for the 2013 playoffs. The 'Cats will play on the road for game one against the Aberdeen IronBirds, the McNamara Division winners, on Friday before returning to "The Joe" for game two Saturday, and possibly game three on Sunday. To purchase tickets for the first round playoffs series order them online at tcvalleycats.com or by calling 518-629-CATS.