WAPPINGERS FALLS, N.Y. -- A night after pitching the Renegades to the New York Penn League Championship Series, Brendan McKay came up clutch again.
"You live for those opportunities as a team," baseball's No. 20 overall prospect said. "You just put the ball in play, and if it finds a hole or you get something deep enough and scores a run, it's a great game."
McKay did just that Wednesday night, hitting a fly ball to right field with two runners in scoring position for a walk-off sacrifice fly as Class A Short Season Hudson Valley edged Vermont, 3-2, in 13 innings to claim Game 1 of the best-of-3 New York-Penn League Finals at Dutchess Stadium.
Video: Hudson Valley's McKay wins it with sac fly
McKay, who is also a starting pitcher, was the hero for the second straight night -- he allowed one hit over five innings for his first professional win to beat Staten Island and advance to the championship Tuesday.
"It was just great, a tough game up and down," said the Rays No. 3 prospect. "Battling for a couple innings, we finally break through and have a big scoring opportunity."
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McKay went 1-for-5 on the night, which had been a frustrating one for both teams. The Renegades stranded eight runners, while Vermont left 11 men on in a game that ended just after three-and-a-half hours. Hudson Valley built some momentum in the 13th when Taylor Walls lined a leadoff single to left, Carl Chester got hit by a pitch and Deion Tansel advanced both with a textbook sacrifice bunt. Vermont brought in lefty Logan Salow to face the southpaw McKay, but the designated hitter connected on a game-winning fly ball, sending his teammates charging out of the dugout with ice buckets and whipped cream.
Brendan McKay hits a walk-off sacrifice fly in the 13th inning. (Danny Wild/MiLB.com)
Wednesday's win might feel familiar for Renegades fans -- the team took Game 1 of the semifinals against Staten Island when Zacrey Law hit a three-run walk-off homer in the 13th on Sept. 9.
"It's tough, we've had it the first game of the last series with the Yankees. 13 innings, both bullpens doing a great job, limiting opportunities to score and it's whoever gives in first," McKay said. "Whoever finds something to get it [done]."
Hudson Valley struck first in the fourth when Law singled home Tansel with two outs. It marked the first run allowed by Vermont pitchers since the third inning of the semifinals opener against Mahoning Valley.
Vermont responded in the fifth. Iolana Akau and Will Toffey hit consecutive doubles off the wall in center.
Wall added an RBI double in the fitfh before Aaron Arruda tripled in a run for Vermont to tie it up in the sixth.
Hudson Valley heads to Vermont for Game 2 at 7:05 p.m. ET on Thursday, and if necessary, Game 3 on Friday.
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"It's always a good thing to have the advantage," McKay said. "You're playing a little bit more free, not uptight, always having to worry about making mistakes. With the bullpen both teams have, I think it's going to be a tough game -- Game 2 of Game 3, if we get to that."
Rays No. 12 prospect Austin Franklin was sharp in the start, holding Vermont to a pair of runs over 5 2/3 innings. Jean Ruiz started for Vermont and allowed two runs on five hits over five frames. Oscar Tovar (0-1) took the loss after putting men on base for Salow in the 13th. Ivan Palaez (1-0) picked up the win for Hudson Valley.
"He's been dominant all season from the point I've gotten here," McKay said of Franklin.
Hudson Valley won its last league championship in 2012, beating Tri-City in three games. The Renegades reached the Finals last year but were swept by the State College Spikes. The club's first crown came in 1999 on a team that featured former top pick Josh Hamilton.