TROY, NY- They say that the third time is the charm, but the for the Tri-City ValleyCats, the third time at home was much of the same. The 'Cats captured their first series victory of 2019 over the Vermont Lake Monsters Saturday evening, cashing in on an RBI double in the bottom of the 11th at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium for a 6-5 win.
Having used an RBI double from 2019 first round draft pick Korey Lee to take Friday's series opener in walk-off fashion, the ValleyCats (4-4, 2-2) came back from a four-run deficit to follow up. Looking to snap a three-game losing skid after beginning the season 3-0, the Lake Monsters (4-5, 3-3) got on the board to start the game for the second night in a row, with center fielder Kevin Richards sending home right fielder Danny Bautista on an RBI single to shallow center. Third baseman Jordan Diaz would plate a thrio of insurance runs two innings later, shooting a three-run homer of the right field wall to give Vermont a 4-0 advantage.
With the game being led by sloppy defensive play and pitching changes, Tri-City embarked on a five-run comeback over the following four innings, eventually taking a 5-4 lead after six in what amounted to their second come-from-behind win of the season. After lining a double down the line in left to extend his hitting streak to five games, 2019 34th round pick AJ Lee was sent home by center fielder Preston Pavlica to get the 'Cats on the board in the bottom of the third. First baseman Zach Biermann followed suit in the home half of the fourth, scoring off an RBI single from third baseman Juan Pineda. The fifth saw Lee and Pavlica team up again at the top two spots in the lineup, with a Pavlica sacrifice fly sending home Lee from third to make it a one-run game.
Looking to pull ahead in the bottom of the sixth, the ValleyCats plated a pair in the frame, with Vermont committing one of their five errors on the night during the 'Cats two-out rally. After right-hander Carlos Sanchez was brought on to replace southpaw Austin Briggs, Pineda drilled a single down the left field line that allowed Biermann to tie the game with his second score of the evening. Entering the night in search of his first professional hit, left fielder E.P. Reese coupled a pair of acrobatic catches in the field with the go-ahead RBI single that send in Pineda and made it a 5-4 ballgame in favor of Tri-City.
The lead would be short-lived with new ValleyCats arm Jervic Chavez losing a back-and forth at-bat to Richards, who fired a hot smash back at the pitcher to allow second baseman Nick Ward to tie it back up in the top of the seventh.
Both teams had shots to push ahead in the final three innings of regulation, but pitching prevailed, with five combined strikeouts being dealt between the two squads and both teams grounding into a double play to conclude their half of the ninth. Tri-City's second extra-inning affair of the 2019 campaign opened with Chavez laying down the Lake Monsters in order, but the 'Cats could not answer, with tie-breaker man Preston Pavlica caught stealing at third and right fielder Matthew Barefoot grounding into a double play. After Chavez and the 'Cats defense mustered a 1-2-3 inning again in the 11th, C.J. Stubbs continued his mavelous start to his professional career. With tie-breaker runner Deury Carrasco at second and Biermann at first after having been intentionally walked, Stubbs used the second pitch of his at-bat to drive a double to left anf send Carrasco in to score. The walk-off came after the 2019 10th round pick homered in back-to-back games after being promoted to the active roster on June 20.
Putting fourth 4.1 innings of relief on the mound in the longest non-start of the year thus far for the 'Cats, Chavez (1-0) picked up the win with a scoreless outing on one hit, striking out three and walking two. After coming on to pitch in the bottom of the 11th from the infield, Ward (0-1) was tagged with the loss, giving up the game-winning double on two batters faced. Pineda and Reese steadied the team offensively with two hits apiece, with Pineda crossing the plate once and contributing a pair of RBIs.
Following the win, the ValleyCats will look for their first series sweep of the 2019 season. The two division rivals will square off on Sunday, June 23, with first pitch scheduled for 5:00 p.m. at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.