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.
‘Cats manager Ed Romero and Spikes manager Oliver Marmol meet with the umpires at home plate prior to Game 1 at “The Joe.”
The Spikes are introduced.
The ‘Cats look on, as their new Championship Series intro video is played.
Evan Grills gets the ball, giving up just one earned run on two hits, while striking out six Spikes batters.
Conrad Gregor was one of the best ‘Cats hitters in the playoffs with a .316 avg, two home runs and three RBI in five games.
Gregor also made some great defensive plays at first, including this diving tag to steal a base hit away from the Spikes.
Catcher, Brian Holberton was sent to the ‘Cats from Greeneville for the Championship Series, following an injury to Jake Rodriguez.
Holberton, the Astros 2013 9th round draft selection out of the University of North Carolina, hit a sac fly to put the ‘Cats up 1-0 in the 2nd inning of Game 1.
Brett Booth did the catching for the ‘Cats, and he was fantastic. Here, he saves a run by tagging out Steven Ramos, who tried to knock the ball away but was unsuccessful.
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.
Rain was in the forecast for both days, but the ‘Cats/Spikes were able to get both games in. Here, the tarp covers Medlar Field at Lubrano Park in State College, PA prior to Game 2.
‘Cats pitcher Troy Scribner throws a football around in the bullpen with his teammates, prior to the game.
‘Cats pitchers Evan Grills, Kevin Comer, Andrew Thurman and Troy Scribner pose for a group photo.
‘Cats warming up prior to Game 2.
‘Cats ace and league ERA champion, Michael Feliz warms up prior to his Game 2 start.
‘Cats during the National Anthem.
Feliz threw 5 2/3 innings, giving up two earned runs on five hits, while striking out five Spikes.
The ‘Cats pounded out 14 hits in Game 2, including a big solo home run from Conrad Gregor, which proved to be the difference in the ballgame.
Gregor arrives at home plate following his solo blast in the second inning to put the ‘Cats ahead 1-0.
‘Cats reliever, Tyler Brunnemann entered the game for Feliz with runners on first and second and two outs in the 6th inning. He got the final out of that inning, and got the ‘Cats through the 7th.
During the 6th inning, ‘Cats left fielder Jon Kemmer saved two runs with an over the back catch near the left field wall.
‘Cats closer, Gonzalo Sanudo came on for the 6-out save, which would send the series to a championship deciding Game 3 the following night.
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!
The rain moved out of the area just in time for Game 3. Here, members of the ValleyCats staff assist members of the Spikes staff in rolling up the tarp.
The ‘Cats once again were loose prior to the game, engaging in some friendly tussling.
The football, which seemed to work prior to Game 2, was broken out prior to Game 3 as Evan Grills hikes the ball to pitcher Zachary Dando.
Michael Feliz, Gonzalo Sanudo and Tyler Brunnemann pose for a group photo. All three were instrumental in the ‘Cats championship run.
‘Cats hitting coach Russ Steinhorn leads the way as the ‘Cats stretch prior to Game 3.
Kyle Westwood threw six innings of one-run baseball, giving up six hits while striking out four Spikes.
The ‘Cats scored four runs in the 6th inning, all on hits that didn’t leave the infield. A few bunts, and some costly Spikes mistakes led to the outburst. Here, Chan Moon attempts a sac bunt, and is safe at first.
‘Cats second baseman Jack Mayfield was inserted into the lineup for Games 2 and 3, and he didn’t disappoint. Mayfield went 4-for-8, with two doubles and a RBI.
Moon came around to score the ‘Cats second run of the 6th inning, the go-ahead run, on a wild pitch from Spikes reliever Victor De Leon.
The ‘Cats would turn to their reliable closer Gonzalo Sanudo once again, to attempt the second consecutive 6-out save of the series.
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!
Jon Kemmer & Conrad Gregor pose with the trophy.
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.
We’ll also update you on the latest gear through our Facebook and Twitter pages. A trophy tour is also in the works, so we’ll keep you updated on that as well!
Thanks again to all the fans who came out to “The Joe” this season! We couldn’t have achieved this success without your support!