6,215 fans attended Monday's game at "The Joe," but only a handful of them were still around when the game ended. Nearly four and a half hours after the first pitch was thrown, Adam Bailey drove home Chris Wallace with a single to right field, giving the ValleyCats a thrilling 5-4 victory in the 14th inning.
Monday's contest concluded the ValleyCats' regular-season home slate, as they finish with a pair of three-game series on the road. The attendance of 6,215 was the second-most this season and the fourth-most in franchise history. For the seventh consecutive season, the ValleyCats set a new record with 155,315 total fans and an average of 4,314 per game.
From the eighth inning onward, the scoreboard showed a 4-4 tie, a familiar sight to fans at Joe Bruno Stadium. The previous night, the Renegades (34-33) and ValleyCats (33-34) were deadlocked at the same score for four innings until Hudson Valley broke through with a 12th-inning run.
On Monday, the two sides lasted even longer, playing all the way into the 14th inning. The game was the longest of the season for the ValleyCats in both innings and total time, a half-hour than their previous mark.
The ValleyCats stranded six runners in the ninth through 13th innings and the Renegades left nine on in that span, but by the bottom of the 14th, it looked like the game might last forever. Robert Dickman sent the hosts down in order in their half of the 13th and Jason Chowning did likewise in the top of the next frame.
Dickman got Tyler Burnett to fly out to center field, the seventh consecutive batter he retired. But Chris Wallace smacked a low liner to the left-center gap, hit hard enough that it rolled to the wall between the two fielders. Wallace reached second with a stand-up double. Adam Bailey, who led off the 12th inning with a single off Dickman, smacked a 2-0 pitch to right field for his third hit of the night. Chris Winder cut the ball off in the gap and made a strong throw home, but it was a few feet up the line and high, allowing Chris Wallace to narrowly avoid the tag at the plate.
Extra-inning wins have not been easy for the ValleyCats to come by this season. This was their 12th such contest in 2010 - easily tops in the league - but only their fourth victory.
The hosts were down a run in the eighth inning, but equalized thanks to a series of plays by center fielder Austin Wates, starting his first game since being hit on the hand on Tuesday. Wates drew a one-out walk off reliever Wade Broyles and advanced to third when Mayo Acosta's throw sailed into center field. Burnett drove the speedy runner home with a single up the middle, tying the game at 4-4.
The ValleyCats initially took the lead with a three-run second inning. Marcus Nidiffer and Mike Kvasnicka reached on base hits, putting two on with one out for Jacke Healey. The shortstop entered the game with just two hits in his previous 23 at-bats and had only one safety on Monday, but he made it count, blasting a fly over the center-field fence to give the 'Cats a 3-0 advantage.
Hudson Valley struggled to score off starter Jake Buchanan, but finally managed a run in the fifth. Alejandro Torres and Chris Winder led off with back-to-back singles. Buchanan recovered to fan Brian Bryles and Elias Otero, but could not fool slugger Nick Schwaner. The third baseman drove a line drive to the right-field wall, bringing Torres home for his team-leading 47th RBI. Kvasnicka made a nice play to get the ball quickly and hold the speedy Winder at third, where he would be stranded.
The ValleyCats twice walked Schwaner intentionally with a runner in scoring position in the late innings. Both times they were vindicated. Cleanup hitter Steve Tinoco could not maintain the momentum from his 4-for-5 Sunday, going hitless in seven at-bats.
Reliever Travis Blankenship faced only three batters in his first inning, but got into trouble in the seventh. The southpaw entered with only four earned runs in the season but nearly doubled his total in the inning. Torres singled and was forced out on a Winder grounder, but the 'Cats could only get the one out. Bryles followed with a liner through the right-center gap, scoring Winder with a triple. Otero then lined a 1-0 pitch into the right-field bullpen - his first homer of the year - to give the Renegades a 4-3 lead.
Vermont defeated Aberdeen 11-5, but Connecticut dropped its final game against Brooklyn, 6-1. The 'Cats leapfrog the Tigers into second place in the Stedler Division. The Lake Monsters lead Tri-City by a half-game and Connecticut by a full one with less than one week to play in the season.
The ValleyCats end the season with six games on the road, hoping to secure the Stedler Division title and a playoff berth for the first time since 2006. They travel to Lowell tomorrow for a three-game series before finishing the regular season with a set at Brooklyn.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.