ValleyCats defeat Vermont; Tuesday's local roundup
TROY -- The ValleyCats’ bus was waiting for them outside the locker room following Tuesday’s game – Tri-City begin a six-day road trip tonight in Mahoning Valley – but first, the team had Stedler Division action to take care of at home.
Tri-City batters smacked 11 hits and the bullpen spun five and one third innings of one-run relief as the ValleyCats posted a 5-3 New York-Penn League victory over the Vermont Lake Monsters at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium.
Tri-City pulled within five games of Stedler Division leader Vermont and is now three behind the Connecticut Tigers. In other division action, last-place Lowell defeated Connecticut 1-0 Tuesday night.
"I think we’re still just trying to go out and get better every day and play well that night," said leadoff hitter Ben Orloff, who was named Player of the Game for collecting three hits. "If we do that, at the end of the day, hopefully we’ll be where we want to be."
The ValleyCats won the final four games of the season series with Vermont, splitting the season series, 5-5.
Tri-City (20-24) jumped out to an early lead in the first inning after Ben Orloff led off the bot¬tom of the frame with a double to right field. Orloff advanced to third base on a wild pitch and scored on Kike Hernandez's single to right.
Vermont (25-19) responded in the second when designated hitter Justin Miller hit a solo home run over the left center field fence to even the score at 1-1.
Hernandez scored for the ValleyCats in the third on Ben Heath's sacrifice fly.
In the fourth inning, Adam Bailey led off with a double down the left field line. Jacke Healey laid down a sacrifice bunt attempt, which Vermont pitcher Chris McKenzie fielded and fired toward third base. On an errant throw, the ball got away, allowing Bailey to score and Healey to take second base.
"We think we’ve been playing well the last couple weeks here," said Orloff. "We’ve been getting good pitching still and we’ve started to come around with the bats. We’ve played a lot of really good games."
Tyler Burnett capped Tri-City's scoring with a booming solo home run over the Vermont bullpen in right field.
Tri-City starting pitcher Alex Sogard pitched into the fourth inning but was lifted after facing three batters.
Vermont's David Freitas – the sec¬ond-leading hitter in the New York-Penn League with a .357 batting average coming into Tuesday's game – led off the fourth with a dou¬ble and Ronnie LeBrie followed with an RBI sin¬gle. Wade Moore laid down a successful sacri¬fice bunt, moving LaBrie to second, and out came Tri-City manager Joel Pankovits to remove Sogard.
Murillo Gouyea pitched two and two thirds innings of relief, allowing one run on three hits. Blake Blankenship recorded the first two outs in the seventh inning before turning things over to Brandt Walker, who tossed an inning and a third of scoreless ball.
In the fifth inning, Gouyea went after Freitas with runners on second and third and first base open and one man out. The decision paid off, as Freitas grounded into an RBI fielder’s choice and the ValleyCats escaped further damage.
"(Freitas) hadn’t been swinging the bat as well as the guy behind him (LaBrie) over the last five days," said Tri-City manager Joel Pankovits. "He was only hitting .150 or .160 the last five days and the other guy was over .400.
"They’re a tough lineup, especially the middle of the order," Pankovits continued. "You have to pick and choose your guys you have to go after and it worked out tonight."
Jorge De Leon took over in the ninth inning and earned his fourth save of the year. Gouvea earned his first win of the season. His ERA was 8.76 in 24 and two thirds innings pitched prior to Tuesday’s outing.
Athletics advance to Twilight League championship series
ALBANY - The Albany Athletics held the Blue Slate Bluehawks scoreless over two games and 14 innings of baseball Tuesday night, earning a spot in the Albany Twilight League championship series for the fifth consecutive season.
Albany posted 1-0 and 3-0 victories over Blue Slate at Bleecker Stadium in the best two-of-three Twilight League semifinals.
All Stars Academy is ahead one game to none over Waterford in the other semifinal series. The championship series begins after the North Atlantic Regional tournament, which is set to be played this weekend.
In Tuesday’s first game, Jim Shook threw a complete game one-hitter, striking out 14 and winning his ninth straight game. Craig Mastroianni scored the game’s only run on a wild pitch in the fourth inning.
Al Barbato hit a two-run home run for the A’s in the 3-0 victory over Blue Slate.
Albany (31-7-1) has not lost a game in the Twilight League semifinals since the 2005 season and is 19-3 in all postseason games sine 2006.
Albany 1, Blue Slate 0
Blue Slate 000 000 0 - 0 2 0
Albany 000 100 x - 1 7 0
Kline and Pollard; Shook and S.Weber
Albany 3, Blue Slate 0
Albany 003 000 0 - 3 4 1
Blue Slate 000 000 0 - 0 4 1
Montross, Smith (3), Lawton (5), Walsh (6) and Mastroianni; DeMidio and Pollard.
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