The Tri-City ValleyCats went to extra innings for the second straight night Sunday at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium, but could not pull out the series sweep over Vermont. The Lake Monsters came out on top in the back-and-forth affair, salvaging a 7-6 victory in the final game of the three-game, weekend series between the Stedler Division rivals.
Looking to win their fourth straight and capture their first series sweep of 2019, Tri-City, (4-5, 2-3) saw starting pitcher Peyton Battenfield retire all nine batters he faced in order to start the game, with the 2019 ninth round draft pick throwing a perfect game in three innings to start. New pitcher Manny Ramirez then allowed Vermont to plate three in the visiting half of the fourth, with a pair of singles from centerfielder Kevin Richards and third baseman Jordan Diaz scoring on a wild pitch allowing the visitors to score first for the third straight game. The ValleyCats got two back in the bottom of the frame thanks to a single from 2019 first rounder Korey Lee that allowed outfielder E.P. Reese and shortstop Grae Kessinger to cross home.
Following the ejection of Vermont manager Aaron Nieckula in the bottom of the fourth, the 'Cats tied things at three in the home half of the fifth, with third baseman Luis Santana scoring on a throwing error in his ValleyCats debut. The run signaled scoring action in four consecutive frames, with Vermont's Lawrence Butler giving the Lake Monsters back the lead with a solo home run in the top of the fifth, and Tri-City catcher Nate Perry returning the favor with a blast of his own in the bottom. The top of the seventh saw Diaz single home second baseman Nick Ward, allowing Vermont to come out of the scoring flurry with a one-run advantage.
The lead stood until the bottom of the eighth, when, after Kessinger singled to left ot begin the inning, first baseman Zach Biermann blasted a ball 390 feet into right field to five the ValleyCats a 6-5 lead, marking his second home run in six games played. With ValleyCats manager Ozney Guillen tossed in the top of the eighth, the Lake Monsters sent the game into extras for the second straight night with a sacrifice fly off the bat of Ward in the top of the ninth. The same result in the top of the eleventh from Diaz plated the go-ahead run, with the wide being retired in order to give Vermont a 3-2 advantage in the season series.
Coming in to begin extra innings right-hander Luis De Paula (0-1) took the loss in two innings on the mound, giving up the game-winning run on a sacrifice fly and striking out a pair. Vermont's Jorge Martinez (1-1) redeemed himself after taking the loss on Friday, throwing 1.1 innings of scoreless ball that included a strikeout.
Following the setback, the ValleyCats will have a much-needed day off Monday before hitting the road for a three-game mid-week series at division rival Lowell Tuesday - Thursday. Tri-City is back in action at home next weekend, hosting the Aberdeen IronBirds beginning Friday, June 28 at 7:00 p.m.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.