TROY, NY - For the third year in a row, and fourth in six seasons, the Tri-City ValleyCats are champions of the New York-Penn League's Stedler Division. As a result, they have clinched a berth in next month's playoffs.
Despite falling to the Vermont Lake Monsters 5-2 on Monday, the 'Cats postseason berth was finalized due to the Connecticut Tigers' 7-3 defeat at the hands of the Lowell Spinners. Because the Tigers lost, Tri-City's division lead remained at seven games, with seven games remaining. As a result, there is now no longer a possibility that the Tigers could win the division, due to the fact that the ValleyCats won seven out of ten games between the two squads this year (the tie-breaking scenario if two teams are tied for first place once the regular season ends).
Securing a spot in the postseason took some of the sting out of Monday's defeat that saw the Lake Monsters jump on 'Cats starter Robert Kahana early, and the ValleyCats unable to rebound.
Tri-City did score first on an RBI by Derek Fisher in the bottom of the first inning. However, Vermont pushed a run across in the top of the second, and added two in the third on RBIs by Jose Brizuela and Seong-min Kim.
The Lake Monsters also scored runs in the fifth and seventh, before Fisher drove home Mott Hyde with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Unfortunately, it was too little, too late, as that run was all the 'Cats could muster in the final frame.
While winning the Stedler Divison crown is now out of the way, the Tri-City ValleyCats still have the top overall record in the New York-Penn League to fight for. At 43-26, they sit only one game behind the 44-25 Hudson Valley Renegades in the race for home field advantage in the playoffs.
The 'Cats will look to continue towards that goal on Tuesday, with RHP Francis Ramirez (2-4, 4.12) on the mound to face the Lake Monsters in game two of this three-game set. Getting the start for Vermont will be RHP A.J. Burke (5-3, 4.40).
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