Scenes from the road: Staten Island

After playing three games in two days at Connecticut, the ValleyCats traveled down to the city to face the Staten Island Yankees this weekend. Richmond County Bank Ballpark is one of the best stadiums in the New York-Penn League, and offers unquestionably the nicest view:

The players appreciated the stadium and its location, a nice treat in a league with ballparks that vary greatly in quality.

@ThisIsNJJ: This stadium is sick right behind centerfield is the city pics coming soon … Staten Island http://t.co/6VlUYX9 http://t.co/ttSUfjA http://t.co/kyiXqfm

After playing five games in four days against the Connecticut Tigers, including a 13-inning marathon in Troy, the ValleyCats’ pitching staff was tired entering the series. Murilo Gouvea, a member of last year’s championship team, was sent down from Class-A Lexington to make a spot start. Gouvea showed off his impressive curveball, but the Yankees jumped on his fastball, racking up five hits for three runs in the first inning.

The ‘Cats got eight hits for the game but converted them into only one run. Richard Martinez beat the ValleyCats for the second time in one week, throwing five strong innings in the 6-1 Yankees victory.

The game was followed by a fireworks show in front of the Upper Bay and the Manhattan skyline.

The ValleyCats returned to RCB Ballpark for the second game of the series, a 4 p.m. Sunday start.

Nick Tropeano got the start for the ValleyCats and had plenty of support in the first-base bleachers. The Long Island native and Stony Brook University student was able to pitch in front of friends and family, and he came through for them with his best start of the season.

Yankees starter Bryan Mitchell also pitched well, but he was outdueled by Tropeano in a 2-0 ValleyCats win.

Manager Stubby Clapp walks out to the third-base coaches’ box:

Justin Gominsky came home on a grounder by Matt Duffy in the first inning, which would prove to be all the scoring that the ‘Cats would need. John Hinson added in insurance run in the fifth, leading off with his first home run of the season, a fly ball that carried well over the right-field fence.

Brandon Meredith went 1-for-4, collecting one of 11 ValleyCats hits.

Meanwhile, Tropeano had it going on. He finished with a season-high nine strikeouts, consistently getting the Yankees to swing over the top of his changeup, and allowed only three baserunners in six innings.

Jacke Healey and John Hinson turned a 6-4-3 double play to get Mitch Lambson out of the eighth:

Lambson and Ryan Cole closed out the game with a combined three scoreless innings, giving Tropeano his first professional win.

The view across the water from behind the center-field fence:

And one more picture from the press box, taken during the national anthem before Monday’s early start:

The ‘Cats got six innings of one-run ball and eight strikeouts from Juri Perez and tied the game 1-1 on another Duffy grounder in the sixth inning. But Cito Culver’s infield single in the eighth inning gave the Yankees another lead, and despite Zach Johnson’s ninth-inning double, the hosts held on to win 2-1 and even the season series at three apiece.

The ValleyCats now stand at 15-22 on the season, 4.5 games behind division-leading Vermont. After a league-wide break today, they return to Joe Bruno Stadium for a six-game homestand against Pinckney Division foes State College and Auburn. The ‘Cats have played better at home this season (10-9 at “The Joe,” 5-13 away), and with 15 home games in the next 19 days, they could make a charge towards the top of the Stedler Division.

Kevin Whitaker

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