We hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! It’s such a great time of year, as the holiday season means reuniting with family and friends!
Before we fill you in on some upcoming events, let’s recap our most recent community appearances.
Back on the 23rd of November, we participated in the 46th Annual Gazette Holiday Parade in downtown Schenectady! For those who have been, you know that the atmosphere and energy is tremendous. It’s known as the largest nighttime parade in the northeast, and attracts 20,000-40,000 spectators each year!
For the parade, we decorated the ValleyCats Ford pickup truck and ‘Cats Care trailer!
SouthPaw, Pappy, Mayor McCarthy and friends had a blast! Here are some photos:
On the 26th, SouthPaw visited with staff and patients at the Albany Stratton VA Medical Center:
On Thanksgiving morning, SouthPaw braved the cold weather along with nearly 8,000 others in downtown Troy, to participate in the 66th Annual Troy Turkey Trot. Well, although SouthPaw didn’t run, he was there to give his full support and cheer on the runners!
Another great Capital Region tradition is the 17th Annual Price Chopper Capital Holiday Lights in the Park. Located in Albany’s Washington Park, over 125 fantastic light displays line the roads in the park. It’s for a great cause, as all the proceeds from admission benefit the youth programming of Albany PAL.
Lights in the Park is open through January 3rd, and the hours are Sunday-Thursday from 6pm-9pm and Friday-Saturday from 6pm-10pm. For more information, visit their website here: http://www.albanycapitalholidaylights.com/
Members of our staff will be there on Saturday the 14th, volunteering our services. So be sure to come check out the great light displays and say hello!
Turning our attention to the 2014 season of baseball at “The Joe,” our 2014 schedule has been released and is available for download on our website, tcvalleycats.com. The season begins a few days earlier, on Friday, June 13th as we host the Connecticut Tigers.
You can expect many of the same great theme nights, as well as some fresh new ideas! We’ll keep everyone updated on the progress, but look for the full release of our promotional schedule at some point in February.
Season tickets and our popular mini-plan packages are on-sale now! If you order a mini-plan by December 17, you will receive a mystery ValleyCats gift card ranging in amounts of $5-$25! Click here for more information>>
Also, be sure to check out our Holiday Starting Nine, which lays out nine great ValleyCats gift ideas! One of our personal favorites are the brand new winter hats! Very stylish! Click here to check out our Holiday Starting Nine>>
A few weeks ago, we announced our brand new season of the Community Grounds Crew Program, a partnership between us and BlueShield of Northeastern New York. We are currently accepting applications for the 2014 ’4 in 24′ Extreme Field Renovation Project, which takes place in April. At that time, we will renovate four youth ball fields, placing brand new sod on their infield while also rebuilding the pitcher’s mound and home plate areas. Click here for full details, and how to apply>>
In closing, next week is a very busy and important week for some members of the ValleyCats front office who will attending the Baseball Winter Meetings in Orlando, at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort.
A common misconception is that the Winter Meetings are just for Major League Baseball and free agent/trade activity. It’s actually a gathering of members of The National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues (MLB & Minor League Baseball).
As MLB representatives deal with trade talks/free agency, the Minor League world will be attending a plethora of business seminars, informational workshops and a massive trade show, while also interviewing for select internship positions at the PBEO Job Fair.
ValleyCats Media Relations Manager Chris Chenes will be posting blog updates here on ‘Cats Corner throughout next week to give everyone an inside look. Also, be sure to follow the @ValleyCats Twitter feed for updates.
It’s that time of year again! Daytime is becoming shorter and shorter, the weather is getting colder and colder, and as much as some of us don’t want to hear it, snowflakes will soon be falling.
With winter rapidly approaching, we need to make sure things at “The Joe” are properly stored away, and undertake any stadium improvement projects that we can complete before the snow falls.
One such project is paving the area behind the video board, which leads to the Top of the Hill Bar & Grill.
Aside from leveling the surface and getting rid of the rocks, the ultimate goal is to use this extra space to expand the Top of the Hill.
Final winter preparations have just been completed on the playing field, as Eric and Travis from Brickman Landscaping have edged the infield. Now that the grass has stopped growing, it’s a perfect time to get it ready for the snow, and winter temperatures.
The rest of the stadium has been packed up and placed into storage, leaving an eery looking empty concourse.
The Hudson Valley Community College baseball team will be back on the field in March for their spring season, then before you know it, the 2014 ‘Cats will hit the field!
On the community front, SouthPaw has been very busy making appearances, and bringing along the New York-Penn League Championship trophy with him!
Here are a few photos from Crossgates Mall as SouthPaw celebrated the arrival of Santa, with children from the B95.5 Kids Club.
SouthPaw also stopped by NBT Bank in East Greenbush to meet with fans and customers!
Be sure to check back on our Facebook page and website for any further SouthPaw appearances!
In what has become an annual tradition, members of our front office spent Friday morning at the Ronald McDonald House in Albany, cooking breakfast.
The Ronald McDonald House is such an important piece of the Capital Region community, providing a home away from home for children and their families while they undergo treatment at local hospitals. That is why we enjoy coming together as a team to assist in any way possible! We’ve also become pretty good at making breakfast!!
The Boston Red Sox are 2013 World Series Champions, marking the end of the 2013 baseball season. However, the ‘Cats still remain active in the Capital Region, and have some great plans to unveil regarding youth baseball.
First, we have another Community Grounds Crew update. In our previous post, we detailed the major renovation of Troy Central Little League. Following the completion of that field, we spent some time at Coxsackie-Athens High School to rebuild their pitcher’s mound and home plate/batters box areas. Here are some photos prior to, and during the renovation.
Once again, none of this work would be possible without the support of BlueShield of Northeastern New York, our Community Grounds Crew partner!
We are excited to announce that we have started an offseason Baseball Bootcamp program for children ages 9-13 that lasts four weeks, and will take place in the team clubhouse and batting cage. We’ve already sold out our first two sessions, and have created a third that will run from November 18 – December 9.
Twice a week, Monday and Wednesday nights from 7:15-8:15pm, participants will take part in a program designed by ValleyCats coaches and trainers to improve their baseball skills and fitness level.
Campers will work on baseball mechanics to improve their fundamentals for hitting, fielding and throwing. They will also work on cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance and flexibility. Nutritional guidance will be given throughout the program, along with other essential aspects of baseball fitness.
Registration is limited and filling up fast. Click here for more information>>
Along with the offseason camps, the ‘Cats are also offering rentals of the clubhouse, indoor batting cage and full weight room. The space is ideal for groups looking to take advantage of a sectioned batting cage with multiple hitting sections. The cage provides the ability to hit off of batting tees, conduct soft-toss, or take live batting practice. The net can also be lifted to allow for basic infield drills and mechanics. Click here for more information>>
Finally, the ‘Cats officially kicked off their New York-Penn League Championship Trophy Tour at the Recovery Sports Grill in Troy this past Monday. Season ticket holders and loyal fans alike gathered to celebrate the ‘Cats second NYPL title in the past four years. Those who attended, took pictures with the trophy, enjoyed some free appetizers and 50 cent wings.
Here are a few photos from the night:
To view more photos, click here to view the Recovery Sports Grill photo album on Facebook.
We’ll be sure to keep you posted on upcoming events!
The Tri-City ValleyCats and BlueShield of Northeastern New York’s Community Grounds Crew Program just completed renovation on Frank Welch Memorial Field at Troy Central Little League. This specific renovation hit home with the ‘Cats, as it took place in their hometown city.
Troy Central has been in the community since 1955, and this past season the league saw its membership increase to 125 players across 11 different teams.
As the league continues to grow, it is necessary to provide them with a playing surface that is safe, and in the best condition possible to ensure that the youth ballplayers enjoy the learning experience.
Here are a few photos before the renovation:
The first step was to remove the old infield grass:
While that was taking place, the pitcher’s mound and home plate were both removed:
Both the pitcher’s mound and home plate areas were rebuilt to the correct specs:
The work on this field, and all others renovated through the Community Grounds Crew, wouldn’t be possible without the support of BlueShield of Northeastern New York. Kaitlyn from BSNENY spend some time in the morning helping us out! Here she is with ValleyCats Assistant General Manager, Matt Callahan.
Once the old grass had been torn up and taken away, new dirt was raked into the infield to make the playing surface as even as possible.
Then, brand new sod was laid:
Once all the new sod was laid, the baselines were torn up to remove the weeds, and new dirt was raked in. The pitcher’s mound and homeplate areas were completely rebuilt, brand new bases were put in, and the field was raked one final time.
Here are some great after shots of the brand new infield!
By now, the grass has begun to grow nicely into the dirt, and will be in perfect shape once spring rolls around! We can’t wait until Troy Central’s Opening Day in April!
ABOUT THE COMMUNITY GROUNDS CREW:
The Community Grounds Crew is a collaborative effort between the ValleyCats and BlueShield of Northeastern New York, to undertake field renovation projects on youth fields throughout the year. The ValleyCats’ field renovations have been an annual tradition since 2003 when the first field was officially renovated by the ‘Cats in South Troy. Each year since, they have expanded upon its success. In 2011 the ‘Cats created the ambitious ‘4 in 24’ project to renovate four youth playing fields in the course of just a 24 hour time period, something totally unique to any field renovation initiative in the country.
Each project is also supported by the New York-Penn League Charitable Foundation. Contributions come from past events such as the Capital Region Craft Brewers Festival, hosted by the ValleyCats and Brown’s Brewing Company, and baseball tournaments like the Capital Region Series and Battle of the Beverages, which included teams from local and regional businesses.
Representatives from all across professional baseball descended on Louisville last week for the 2013 Minor League Baseball Promotional Seminar. The Promo Seminar is an annual gathering that offers some of the best idea sharing in the industry.
Assistant General Manager, Matt Callahan, and Promotions Director, Anthony Pettograsso, made the trip to represent the ‘Cats. The Galt House was the host hotel and offered some unique features, including the glass walkway pictured above. This walkway connected the hotel’s two towers, housed a bar, and looked out over the Ohio River.
The seminar kicked off with a welcome luncheon on Tuesday afternoon followed by a series of “Group Therapy Sessions.” These round table-style meetings serve as a guided discussion covering topics ranging from on-field promotions to stadium operations.
These sessions are a great opportunity for MiLB executives to share best practices, new ideas, industry trends, and discuss challenges that they face in their markets.
Wednesday included a popular segment called “Around the Horn” where each team shares one of their best promotions. This always produces some great ideas as well as some good laughs as the emcee, Todd “Parney” Parnell keeps things light.
Wednesday afternoon featured some panel discussions focusing on bigger picture items such as the future of Minor League Baseball. Astros Team President, Reid Ryan, was one of the featured speakers during this segment.
At the end of each day, the seminar included some networking functions as well as some informal opportunities to get to know your industry peers in downtown Louisville.
Some other attractions from around the city included:
The ValleyCats were nominated for a “Golden Bobblehead” Award in the category of Best Non-Game Day Event or Promotion. On Thursday morning, they presented “The Show on the Road” promotion to the attendees along with the other finalists.
This promotion was a partnership with Hannaford Supermarkets that saw the ‘Cats bring their entire in-stadium experience to East Greenbush-Castleton Little League.
Despite some excellent feedback from other teams, we were ultimately beat out by the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders who hosted the wrap party for the show “The Office.” The star power of Michael Scott (Steve Carell) running the bases definitely carried the vote.
The seminar concluded with a trip to the Louisville Bats home field: Louisville Slugger Park.
The Bats are the Triple A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds and play their home games just off the banks of the Ohio River.
The ballpark seats over 13,000 fans and includes some unique areas such as:
It was a very productive trip and we look forward to implementing some new ideas as we begin planning for the 2014 season!
On Friday night, we hosted the Rensselaer County Relay For Life at “The Joe” as we joined in the fight against cancer!
Over 369 people participated in the festivities, raising a total of $56,000 in the fight against cancer!
The festivities began at 6:30pm with the introduction of the Relay committee members, who put in a number of tireless hours to make the night possible.
Pat Spain, a cancer survivor born and raised in Wynantskill, NY, was the guest speaker. Spain was the host of National Geographic Channel’s “Beast Hunter” back in 2011.
Following Spain’s impactful speech was the survivor lap, where all the cancer survivors in attendance walked around the warning track, and were greeted by their family and friends.
Tons of activities took place throughout the night including Zumba, a scavenger hunt, water balloon toss, poker lap, trivia, musical chairs, frozen t-shirt contest, and more!
At 9:30, the Luminaria Ceremony began. Following the reading of a few different inspirational poems, bags symbolizing those who lost their lives to cancer were lit up along the warning track in remembrance. Then, all participants took a lap around the warning track as a music slideshow of pictures was played on the video board remembering those who lost their lives.
Activities continued throughout the overnight hours, until things wrapped up at 6:30am with breakfast and then the closing ceremonies. Here are a couple great sunrise shots:
We are glad to have been part of such a great event, and look forward to hosting Relay For Life 2014!
It’s been just over one week since the ‘Cats hoisted the New York-Penn League Championship Trophy high above their heads after a thrilling victory in the final game of the New York-Penn League Championship Series.
Many fans have asked why the players don’t stick around for a celebration with the hometown fans. The reason is because there are a handful of players who have to report to the Astros spring training complex in Kissimmee, Florida, just two days after the season ends.
Those players that are selected, are going for something known as the Instructional League, commonly referred to as “instructs.” The goal is to enhance the skills of the recent draft picks under close instruction from Astros coaches and coordinators. Other players who may attend include those who are rehabbing injuries, learning new positions, preparing for the Arizona Fall League, etc.
The others are anxious to get back home. Some haven’t seen their family and friends for nine months, other than for maybe a few days in-between the end of their college season and when they were assigned to the ValleyCats.
While all of the players and coaching staff have left, the ‘Cats front office is busy showing off the championship trophy!
How convenient that the Uncle Sam Day Parade in Troy occurred just two days after the ‘Cats championship victory! What a great opportunity to show off the new hardware!
Now onto a celebration of a different kind. This past Wednesday, the Ninety Nine Restaurant location on Wolf Road in Colonie, celebrated their 10 year anniversary! It was the first Ninety Nine Restaurant location to open in New York State.
We have had a tremendous partnership with the Ninety Nine for the past three seasons, and it was our pleasure to be part of the celebration!
Each season, the ‘Cats partner with the Ninety Nine Restaurants on a Kids Eat Free promotion. During the season, the day after a ValleyCats win, all kids eat free at the Capital Region’s six Ninety Nine Restaurant locations!
We can’t wait until next June to kick off this promotion once again!
Finally, many fans have also inquired about championship gear. Our championship t-shirts will be available online and at “The Joe”, on Tuesday, October 1st! We’re also in the planning stages of a complete trophy tour, and will have more championship merchandise in the weeks and months ahead.
The ‘Cats 2013 season came to a fantastic ending on the night of Thursday, September 12 in State College, PA! The ‘Cats defeated the State College Spikes 4-3 in the winner takes all Game 3 of the New York-Penn League Championship series, to capture their 2nd league title in four years!
The series was an epic battle of the league’s number one team on paper, the State College Spikes, versus a ValleyCats team that boasted two of the top league ERA leaders in Michael Feliz & Kyle Westwood, along with the league’s best defense.
With State College having the best record at 48-27, they had home field advantage. That meant that Game 1 would take place at “The Joe”, and Game 2 and 3 in State College.
The Spikes took Game 1 of the Championship Series 2-1, in a close extra inning game that came down to a couple of mistakes. Grills made one bad pitch all game long, allowing a home run to Spikes outfielder Mason Katz. Then, in the 11th inning, ‘Cats relief pitcher Edison Frias threw the ball past first base on a sacrifice bunt attempt, allowing the go-ahead and eventual winning run to score.
Following the tough loss, the ‘Cats boarded a bus and headed to State College with hopes of taking the next two ballgames.
Prior to Game 2, the ‘Cats were loose and ready to go. Even though the Spikes held the best home record in the league at 30-8, and had never lost two games in a row at home all season, the team had confidence in their ability to overcome the tough task ahead of them.
Following the tough loss in Game 1, the ‘Cats victory in Game 2 was a huge confidence booster, as they now stood one game away from being New York-Penn League Champions.
The 2013 ‘Cats were now looking to turn the tables on what happened to the 2012 ‘Cats. Last year, they won Game 1 of the championship series against the Hudson Valley Renegades, but lost the next two.
This year, the ‘Cats were sending Kyle Westwood to the mound for Game 3, who has a better ERA (0.81) than Michael Feliz (1.96), but was a few innings short of the minimum needed to qualify for the league ERA title.
With Westwood on the bump, the team knew they had an excellent shot!
Sanudo would get through the 8th inning easily, but ran into trouble in the 9th. With a 4-1 lead, Sanudo gave up a two-run home run to Mason Katz, and then allowed a single.
A sac bunt would move the tying run into scoring position with one out, but Sanudo proceeded to strike out the next two batters to capture the New York-Penn League Championship for the ‘Cats! It was their second league title in four years.
Here are some photos of the final out, followed by a fitting celebration on the field!
So that wraps up another season of ValleyCats baseball, an unforgettable season! Championship merchandise will be available very soon, so keep checking our website, tcvalleycats.com for team store updates. To purchase these photos, or from a selection of many others, please visit tcvcphotos.com.
Thanks again to all the fans who came out to “The Joe” this season! We couldn’t have achieved this success without your support!
The ValleyCats held a brief workout on Monday afternoon, in preparation for Game 1 of the New York-Penn League Championship Series on Tuesday night at “The Joe.” The ‘Cats will face the State College Spikes, affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, in a best-of-three series to determine who will take home the NYPL Championship Cup.
First pitch is set for 7:05pm, and the ‘Cats will send LHP Evan Grills to the mound to face Spikes RHP Arturo Reyes. The ValleyCats and Spikes faced off against each other three times during the regular season, in State College. The ‘Cats were swept 3-0 in the series, but that was a much different team than they are now. The ValleyCats have since added pitchers that include closer Gonzalo Sanudo, set-up man Tyler Brunnemann, Chris Munnelly, Troy Scribner, Justin Hess, Zachary Dando and Krishawn Holley. Position players added include third baseman Tyler White, outfielder Ydarqui Marte and infielder Yonathan Mejia.
Most recently, the ‘Cats have been assigned catcher, Brian Holberton from the Greeneville Astros. Greeneville lost in game 3 of their league championship series, and Holberton had already been home. But when ‘Cats catcher Jake Rodriguez was injured in the game against Aberdeen on Saturday night, Holberton was added as an extra catcher. He looks to be inserted into the Game 1 lineup at designated hitter. Holberton was the 9th round draft selection of the Houston Astros this season out of the University of North Carolina.
The ‘Cats send their ace, Michael Feliz to the mound for Game 2, and if necessary, Kyle Westwood for Game 3.
The workout on Tuesday afternoon was very light, and the team was very loose. They are ready for the challenge that awaits them. Here are some great photos:
The ‘Cats defeated the IronBirds 3-0 on Saturday night at “The Joe,” sweeping the semi-final series of the New York-Penn League playoffs. The ‘Cats now advance to the championship series for the second year in-a-row.
Here are game and celebration photos, shot by team photographer Greg Fisher (SportsThroughTheLens.com / tcvcphotos.com). Check out his webpage for more photos, or to purchase the copies of those below.
The ValleyCats clinched their second consecutive Stedler Division Title with a victory on Tuesday night.
Evan Grills turned in a clutch performance in limiting the Cyclones to just two runs in six innings of work. Grills recorded a season high eight k’s and did not issues any free passes.
The ‘Cats broke it open in the third inning as they plated three to take a 6-2 lead. Ronnie Mitchell led the way with two hits, including a big R.B.I. triple. The offense also displayed some patience working seven walks against the Cyclones pitchers.
Gonzalo Sanudo’s eighth save of the season closed it out and paved the way for a celebration in front of the home crowd!
Tuesday night was also our first ever Oktoberfest Celebration at the ballpark. Coined “Brats, Beer, & Baseball”, fans were greeted by Herb Liebenhagen playing some traditional German tunes on the accordion.
The Picnic Pavilion was turned into a German Beer Garden with an Oktoberfest-style menu!
The ‘Cats closed out the season with “Fans for Life Night” on Wednesday. Stay tuned for that recap shortly . . .
In the meantime, Playoff Tickets are on-sale now as the ‘Cats prepare to host Game 2 at “The Joe” on Saturday night!
The ‘Cats kicked off a crucial three-game set against the Brooklyn Cyclones at ” The Joe” on Labor Day!
After giving up an early run, Kyle Westwood dominated scattering three hits over seven strong innings. The bats came alive with a big eighth inning rally. Tyler White led the way with three hits including the game winning R.B.I. double.
The ValleyCats lead is now 1.5 games and they have a chance to clinch the Stedler Division with a win tonight! Evan Grills is on the mound as we get an early start on the Oktoberfest festivities. Tonight’s game is a 6:00 PM start and tickets are available here: http://www.milb.com/tickets/singlegame.jsp?sid=t577
Labor Day also marked our 2nd annual celebration of the Capital Region’s Biggest BBQ with two separate buffets taking place in the Picnic Pavilion and at the Top of the Hill.
The BBQ theme featured some backyard-style competitions including a wiffle ball home run derby, with the finals taking place on the field. Congratulations to Zachary Mackey who won the derby and earned a ceremonial first pitch!
Our friends from Fresh Brewed provided the entertainment with a great set of blues and classic rock on the concourse.
Kids ran the bases following the game to complete the Sunday Funday feel on Labor Day.
The ValleyCats return home on Labor Day to take on the New York Mets affiliate, Brooklyn Cyclones from 9/2 – 9/4. The ‘Cats are making a push to reach the playoffs for the 2nd straight season!
Monday, September 2- @5pm POSTGAME FIREWORKS!
- Labor Day at “The Joe!”
Spend your day off with friends and family enjoying the fun and excitement of ValleyCats baseball!
- Capital Region’s Biggest BBQ! (3:00pm – 5:00pm)
Join us for an all-you-can eat BBQ dinner from 3:00pm – 5:00pm at either our Picnic Pavilion or Top of the Hill Bar & Grill! Starting at $20, entrance includes a one-hour pregame all-you-can-eat buffet and a reserved box seat for the game. Will be sold individually or as a group. (pending availability) FULL DETAILS / PURCHASE TICKETS>>
- Wiffle Ball Home Run Derby!
Want to be part of our wiffle ball home run derby? We’ll be taking registration for participants beginning at 3pm at the softball field beyond the right field fence. The final round of the derby will take place on the field prior to the game!
- Pregame Concert by The Fresh Brewed Band!
Enjoy LIVE music performed by The Fresh Brewed Band from 3:30pm – 4:30pm!
- 4pm: Pregame catch on the field!
All kids and their parent/guardian will be allowed on the field from 4-4:15 for a pregame catch!
- Postgame Kids Run the Bases!Following the game, all kids will get the chance to run the bases!
Tuesday, September 3- @6pm (Gates open at 4:30)
- Brats, Beer & Baseball!Join us for our own German festival at the ballpark!
- Oktoberfest Celebration: $20 Ticket & Dinner Package!Enjoy an Oktoberfest dinner beginning at 4:30pm with a menu that includes brats, mini potato pancakes, red cabbage, sauerkraut, pretzels and peanuts! Also receive three 12 oz. beer tickets to enjoy a great selection of craft beers that includes Sierra Nevada, Saranac, Lake Placid Brewery, Peak, Ommegang, Captain Lawrence, Saratoga, Long Trail, Shed, Switchback and Founders! You will also receive a Reserved Box ticket to enjoy the game! FULL DETAILS / ORDER TICKETS>>
- College Student 2-for-1 Ticket Special!
Show your college ID at the box office to receive a FREE ticket with the purchase of another at equal or lesser value.
- Pregame LIVE music!
From 4:30pm – 5:30pm there will be LIVE music next to the Brown’s Beer Stand.
- Two For Tuesday!
Enjoy 2-for-1 beer specials! (Excludes Brown’s and import beers)
Wednesday, September 4- @6pm POSTGAME FIREWORKS!
- Fans for Life Night!
We pay tribute to our fans, the best fans! Tons of giveaways all night long!
- New York Lottery Take 5 Coupon Giveaway
The first 500 adults through the gates will receive a buy one get one Take 5 drawing coupon.
Forget the fact that the ‘Cats had a four game lead over the Lowell Spinners and are now sitting in second place, a half a game behind. Forget the fact that the ‘Cats have lost five games in-a-row. Tonight, more than any game played this season, is the night that the ‘Cats need a victory. They need to put the past behind them and look at the big picture.
Yes, mathematically the ‘Cats can still reach the playoffs if they happen to lose tonight and fall 1.5 games behind. Can they afford that? Not a chance.
Following the game tonight, the ‘Cats return to Joseph L. Bruno Stadium on Monday for the final series of the regular season, a three-game set with the Brooklyn Cyclones. If the ‘Cats enter that series 1.5 games behind Lowell, they will need to win at least two of three from the Cyclones, and hope the Spinners lose two of three from the IronBirds in Aberdeen. That’s hardly the situation you want to present itself.
The IronBirds & Cyclones are also battling for the McNamara Division title, and a berth into the playoffs, so both of those teams will be fighting to keep their season alive.
Let’s now turn to the flipside. If the ValleyCats beat the Spinners in Lowell tonight and come back to Troy in first place with a 1/2 game lead, they will then control their own destiny. At the very worst, they will need to match Lowell’s results in Aberdeen. That’s a much better situation to be in.
Tonight, the ‘Cats have an ace in the hole, literally, in starting pitcher and league ERA leader Michael Feliz. Feliz will need to shut down the Spinners and give the ‘Cats offense a chance to score some runs and take the first lead. They can’t afford to fall behind, as the offense is already tense as it is, and they don’t need that to increase by falling behind, putting more pressure on them.
The ‘Cats defense and baserunning will also have to help out Feliz by not committing any errors or mental mistakes. Over the course of the past five days, there has been a lot of that, and they can’t afford it tonight.
Another thing to consider, who will step up for the ‘Cats and be the vocal leader of the team? They need that person now, as desperately as they need a win to keep their playoff hopes alive.