TROY, NY - The Tri-City ValleyCats fell to the Vermont Lake Monsters 4-2 on Thursday night at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium, giving the 'Cats consecutive losses at home for only the second time this season.
Vermont center fielder J.P. Sportman, a Schenectady native and 2010 La Salle Institute graduate, got the Lake Monsters on the board with an RBI double to left field in the top of the third inning.
The ValleyCats were able to tie the game in the bottom half of the third, when first baseman Ariel Ovando scored on a fielder's choice off the bat of left fielder Derek Fisher.
Unfortunately, Vermont took the lead back quickly in the top of the fourth inning, when Lake Monsters second baseman Gabriel Santana hit a single to center field, scoring Max Kuhn from third. Two batters later, Vermont first baseman John Nogowski scored on a wild pitch by ValleyCats' reliever Francis Ramirez, giving the Lake Monsters a 3-1 lead. Vermont then stretched the margin to 4-1 in the sixth frame, when Nogowski drove home Kuhn with an RBI double.
Tri-City was able to put a dent in Vermont's lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, when Fisher crushed a 1-1 pitch from Lake Monsters reliever Jonathan Massad the opposite way over the left field wall to trim the deficit to 4-2.
The home run by Fisher, who turned twenty-one on Thursday, capped a solid birthday at the plate for the Rexmont, Penn., native, as he finished the night 1-3 with a home run, two runs batted in, and his team-leading 16th stolen base.
Unfortunately, it was not enough to propel the ValleyCats to victory, as they were held scoreless by Vermont for the final three innings of the game.
Despite the defeat, Tri-City's lead in the Stedler Division standings remains at eight games, due to the Connecticut Tigers' 6-5 extra-inning loss to the Lowell Spinners. With Connecticut's loss, the ValleyCats' magic number to clinch the Stedler Divison Regular Season crown, as well as a birth in the 2014 post-season, was trimmed to four.
Tri-City will look to continue their march to the playoffs on the road, as they now head to Coney Island to begin a three-game road set against the Brooklyn Cyclones. Getting the start for the ValleyCats will be RHP Austin Chrismon (6-2, 2.90), with RHP Martires Arias (1-0, 1.59) on the mound for the Cyclones.
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