TROY, NY - Tri-City ValleyCats infielder AJ Lee continued his hot start in professional baseball Monday evening, sending a three-run home run over the left field wall at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium in the bottom of the second inning. The shot led the 'Cats to a 4-3 victory over the Brooklyn Cyclones, evening up the three-game series between the inter-division rivals and snapping a four-game losing skid for Tri-City.
Improving to 6-4 at home in their sixth one-run game at "The Joe" this season, the ValleyCats (8-14) came back from a two-run deficit to plate four in the home half of the second and never look back. Fresh off Sunday'a 6-2 decision, Brooklyn (12-11) sent a pair home to take an early lead in the top of the first, with outfielder Antoine Duplantis scoring on an error and Guillemo Granadillo swiping second and home to make it 2-0 in favor of the visitors.
Following five strikeouts in 1.2 innings from Tri-City starter Kyle Serrano, the 'Cats got a run back with one out in the bottom of the second off an RBI single to center field from Wilyer Abreu that plated 2019 28th round selection Bryan Arias. Both Abreu and C.J. Stubbs were on the basepaths when 2019 34th round pick AJ Lee took a 1-0 count deep to left field for his first professional home run. Lee extended his current hitting streak to four, and continues to steady the team in hits, doubles, stolen bases and on-base percentage.
The game then quickly morphed into a defensive tussle, with the Cyclones retiring 19 straight ValleyCats following the home run, only allowing one other base runners off a single from Korey Lee in the eighth. Meanwhile, the 'Cats would finish the night with seven runners stranded defensively and use 4.1 relief innings from Angel Macuare (1-2) to get through the middle part of the game. In his first appearance both out of the pen and at home this season, the right-hander allowed an insurance run in the top of the sixth off three hits, but struck out three as well.
Joining in after transitioning to the bullpen, right-hander Lupe Chavez picked up his first professional save in three innings, downing four of the first six batters he faced via the strikeout and allowing just two hits. Brooklyn starter Matt Cleveland (0-2) was tagged with the loss, surrendering all four earned runs on five hits in five innings on the mound, while striking out four and walking one batter. The win allowed the 'Cats to pick up their first victory while being out-hit of the season, improving to 1-11 in the statistic.
The ValleyCats and the Cyclones will return to Joseph L. Bruno Stadium on Tuesday, July 9 for the rubber match in the three-game series. The contest will serve as the first of two Camp Day games at "The Joe" in 2019, with first pitch set for 11:00 a.m.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.