A day after clinching consecutive winning seasons, the Fresno Grizzlies (73-70-1) ended the 2016 campaign on another positive note Monday, and a three-game road win streak. They earned a series win against the arch-rival Sacramento River Cats in the season finale, and the 4-3 victory made the Grizzlies 7-1 at West Sacramento's Raley Field this year. Fresno is 22-10 overall against the River Cats in two seasons as a Houston Astros affiliate (11-5 each year.)
Derek Fisher (2-for-4) led off the game for Fresno with his fifth Triple-A homer, and his 21st home run of the season counting 16 at Double-A Corpus Christi. In staking the Grizzlies to a 1-0 lead, Fisher picked up his 45th professional longball already, in just his third pro season. In game number 144, it was Fresno's first lead off homer in the first inning in 2016. The game was even at a run apiece after an inning, on Mitch Delfino's sac fly for Sacramento in the bottom of the first.
Making a spot start out of the Grizz bullpen, right-hander Aaron West went three innings, allowing just the earned run on three hits and two walks; West struck out four. Despite it being West's first start of this season, it was his 46th career start in five pro seasons. Chris Cotton relieved West, tossing three scoreless innings of his own with just a hit and walk allowed.
Sacramento starter Joan Gregorio also took a no-decision, going five innings in the season finale, allowing just three hits including the Fisher homer. Gregorio struck out nine and walked three.
With the game still tied 1-1 in the eighth, the Grizzlies finally broke the deadlock with a pair of doubles. Colin Moran stroked a two-base hit with one out, and later scored on Jon Kemmer's RBI double scorched into the right field corner to make it 2-1. Danny Worth (2-for-5) then scored from third on an Alejandro Garcia RBI fielder's choice; Worth singled following Moran's at-bat.
The River Cats responded immediately, as they did in the first inning. A wild pitch and a Ryan Lollis sac fly knotted the game again, in a four-hit frame against the Grizz bullpen. It was 3-3 heading to the 9th.
Worth drove in the eventual winning run in the ninth. Fisher led off with a bunt single and reached second on an error, before Worth drilled a line drive RBI single into left field for a 4-3 lead. Worth also surpassed the 300 at-bat total with the Grizzlies in this game, in order to place him 10th in Grizzlies single-season history in batting average (.330), fourth in on-base percentage (.431) and fifth in OPS (.956).
Brendan McCurry stranded two runners in scoring position in the ninth for his third save. Albert Minnis (1-0) picked up the win in two innings of relief prior to McCurry, with Tyler Rogers (1-1) saddled with the loss for Sacramento. Fresno finished the year going 25-17 in one-run games.
The 2017 season will begin in Fresno on Thursday, April 6, when the Grizzlies host the division rival Reno Aces at Chukchansi Park.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.