WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. - In front of 10,405 fans and a full moon, Nate Freiman hit a go-ahead grand slam in the seventh inning to lift the Sacramento River Cats (39-29) over the Iowa Cubs (33-32) by a score of 7-5 in the first game of a four-game set on Friday the 13th at Raley Field.
The Cubs took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning on an RBI-groundout by top prospect Javier Baez, but the Cats bounced back with a pair of runs in the fourth inning to take the lead 2-1 on a run-scoring single by right fielder Michael Taylor and an RBI-groundout off the bat of third baseman Colin Walsh.
Sacramento's lead evaporated quickly, as Iowa put together a four-run fifth inning that included a bases-clearing three-run triple compliments of left fielder Ryan Kalish, giving the Cubs a 5-2 advantage. Kalish ended up 1-for-3 with a run, a triple, and three RBI in the contest.
Three-straight singles by the River Cats in the bottom of the seventh inning loaded the bases with nobody out. After back-to-back groundball force-outs at home, the Cats finally pushed a run through on an RBI-walk by first baseman Daric Barton. With a full count and the bases still juiced, designated hitter Nate Freiman smashed his second grand slam of the season to give Sacramento a 7-5 lead.
After Freiman's slam, Iowa relief pitcher Carlos Pimentel plunked center fielder Shane Peterson on the first pitch of the at-bat and was immediately tossed by home plate umpire Roberto Ortiz. Cubs' manager Marty Pevey came out to argue the call and was also ejected by Ortiz after a heated exchange.
Freiman finished 2-for-4 on the night with a run scored, a home run, and four RBI. He is currently hitting .500 with two four-baggers and 22 RBI with the bases full and he is tops on the club with 10 homers and 59 RBI. Peterson went 2-for-2 with a run and Barton had a 1-for-3 night at the plate with two runs, a walk, and an RBI.
Righty Marcus Walden (2-2, 5.73 ERA) only surrendered two hits while striking out five in six innings, but four walks, a hit-by-pitch, and a passed ball led to five runs in a no-decision.
Right-hander Paul Smyth earned the win after tossing a scoreless seventh while only giving up one hit and striking out one. Lefty Joe Savery also tossed a scoreless frame of relief, setting up Jeremy McBryde to close out the ninth inning for his fourth save of the season.
Iowa starter Dallas Beeler (3-3, 4.47 ERA) took the loss after giving up six runs on eight hits and two walks to go with six punchouts in 6.2 innings of work.
The Sacramento River Cats and the Iowa Cubs will meet again in game two of the four-game series tomorrow night on Sutter Health Fireworks Saturday. Right-hander Dan Straily (3-1, 3.96 ERA) will toe the rubber for the River Cats against Cubs lefty Tsuyoshi Wada (6-3, 2.51 ERA) with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at Raley Field.
River Cats Season Tickets, Mini-Plans, and Flex Plans can be purchased for the 2014 season by calling the River Cats Ticket Hotline at (916) 371-HITS (4487). Single-game tickets can now be purchased at Raley Field's Round Table Pizza Ticket Office or online at rivercats.com or ticketmaster.com. For more information about the River Cats, visit www.rivercats.com. For information on other events at Raley Field, visit www.raleyfield.com.