Results tagged ‘ photos ’

Helmbold’s hot dogs, Healey’s homer

Fans enjoyed their favorite ballpark franks for just two quarters Wednesday night as Helmbold’s presented 50 Cent Hot Dog Night.
The festivities included three qualifying heats during the early innings with the winner of each heat earning a trip to the final round during the 7th inning. ValleyCats Box Office/Ticket Manager Jessica Kaszeta gave it a valiant effort in the qualifying round but didn’t make it to the finals.
Longtime ValleyCats employee John “Murf” Murphy also took part in one of the heats falling just short of a berth in the finals.
Everyone’s favorite pig, Ribbie, was in the house tonight to help officiate the contest and our friend’s Brian Cody & Chrissy Cavotta from the Fly Morning Rush dropped by to emcee. The participants competed to see who could eat ten Helmbold’s Minis in the shortest amount of time with Joe “The Machete” Manchete winning in impressive fashion.
Also winning in impressive fashion was the home team on the field. The second game against Brooklyn was a see-saw battle. The ‘Cats were on the board early thanks to a lead off home run from Neiko Johnson, but the Cyclones rallied in the middle innings. All-Star starter Kyle Hallock struck out six but departed after five innings with the score tied at two.
Trailing 4-3 in the 8th inning, shortstop Jacke Healey launched a grand slam to give the ValleyCats the lead for good. Joan Belliard finished off 2 and 1/3 innings of scoreless relief to earn the victory.
The ‘Cats are still in the playoff hunt and will go for the series sweep against Brooklyn tomorrow. After winning tonight’s Old Brick Mayors Race, Troy Mayor, Harry Tutunjian is also still in the hunt for the season title. He celebrated with his likeness after tonight’s win.
Thursday at “The Joe” is Back to School Night with postgame fireworks. With only three home games remaining in the regular season, this may be one of your last opportunities to catch a game in 2011.

CTDA had a table by the front gate, educating fans on transit options in the Capital Region.

Neiko Johnson, shown here batting after Healey in the eighth, led off the first inning with his first professional home run.

Photos taken by Garrett Craig. For more pictures from every ValleyCats event, visit our Seton Health ‘Cats Camera page.

Blues, BBQ & Baseball

A busy day at “The Joe” kicked off with a press conference to announce the arrival of Houston’s first round draft pick, George Springer. The former UConn standout, who was selected 11th overall in this June’s draft, met with the local media Tuesday afternoon.
Blues legend Ernie Williams brought down the house with his annual Blues, BBQ & Baseball Night performance. Gates opened early for our final installment of Tunes for Tuesday this season.
Our friend “Cuppy” from Dunkin’ Donuts greeted fans throughout the night and accompanied our honorary managers as they exchanged lineup cards. Dunkin’ Donuts also provided gift cards to a select number of lucky fans throughout the night.
In celebration of the team’s 10th Anniversary Season, ValleyCats President Bill Gladstone introduced Senator Joe Bruno to the crowd and thanked him for his role in bringing the team to Troy. Following those remarks, Senator Bruno tossed out the ceremonial first pitch.
Tuesday’s game also marked Brooklyn’s first visit to “The Joe” since last year’s championship series. 4,802 fans packed the ballpark to watch the series opener against the Cyclones, and they were not disappointed.
The ‘Cats picked up right where they left off last fall, plating four runs in the first inning. Matt Duffy opened the scoring with an RBI single and Ryan McCurdy drove in two more with his first of two hits on the night. Adam Champion pitched five strong innings to earn the win and Zach Johnson provided some more support with his fifth home run of the year.

Catcher Ryan McCurdy tags Xorge Castillo, who was thrown out by right fielder Drew Muren while attempting to score from third on a single in the ninth inning.

After the game, Springer signed autographs for fans alongside pitcher Dayan Diaz.
With only four home games remaining, come cheer the ‘Cats on as they look to make a final push for the playoffs. Wednesday night is 50 Cent Hot Dog Night, presented by Helmbold’s, and will feature hot dog eating contests throughout the night. On the field, the team will look to take a second straight game from the downstate Mets affiliate.
Photos taken by Garrett Craig. For more pictures from every ValleyCats event, visit our Seton Health ‘Cats Camera page.

Summer Reader Night

New York’s 529 Savings Plan sponsored Summer Reader Night at “The Joe” on Saturday. Kids who completed their local library’s reading list were rewarded with two tickets to last night’s ValleyCats game, and were rewarded with quite a show – the ValleyCats scored a season-high 14 runs in front of a sellout crowd of 4,832 fans.
Justin Gominsky, Zach Johnson, and brand new dad Bubby Williams led the offensive attack with two hits apiece. The ‘Cats have taken three-straight from the Renegades and will go for the sweep on Sunday afternoon.
Young fans received drawstring bags at the gate, also courtesy of NY’s 529 College Savings Plan.
In other action on the field, the Cookie Factory Know Your Partner Contest included an extra special question. After two standard questions, Mark (Buddy) asked Cat to marry him. To the crowd’s delight, she said “Yes!” This was certainly a highlight for our staff – thanks for including us in such a special moment!
Some more scenes from Saturday’s action:
Tomorrow will be our annual NFL Night as we celebrate the end of the lockout – and more importantly, the coming season. Make sure to wear your favorite team’s jersey and stop by the Cat-tle Ranch to sample some of the Capital Region’s finest wings!
Photos taken by Garrett Craig. For more pictures from every ValleyCats event, visit our Seton Health ‘Cats Camera page.

Double Play

In the immortal words of Ernie Banks: “Let’s play two!” On Friday, the ValleyCats did just that for the third time this week, following up doubleheaders on Sunday and Wednesday with another twin bill at “The Joe.”
The ‘Cats came to play last night, taking both games for their first doubleheader sweep since 2004. The first game was all about the offense as Rafael Valenzuela continued his hot hitting in the 9-4 victory.

Shortstop Miguel Arrendell slides into second with a stolen base.

Game 2 had a much different tone as Andrew Walter, Travis Blankenship, and Ryan Cole stymied the Renegades in a 2-1 win.

Friday night’s doubleheader was Farm & Agriculture Night at “The Joe,” with the NYS Farm Bureau and Cabot Creamery educating fans about local producers. The Dairy Princess, Marilyn Lamb, threw out a strike with one of our ceremonial first pitches and was escorted to the pitchers mound by Dean Casey, the president of the Rensselaer County Farm Bureau.

A select number of fans also received a 10th Anniversary canvas print as they entered the ballpark. This commemorative giveaway was made from a picture of pre-game ceremonies at “The Joe.”
Saturday is Summer Reader Night at “The Joe” presented by NY’s 529 College Savings Program. Kids will be rewarded for completing their summer reading and our young fans will also receive drawstring back packs courtesy of the 529 Plan. The ‘Cats are only 3.5 games out of first place and are looking to make up even more ground prior to the All-Star break.
Photos taken by Garrett Craig. For more pictures from every ValleyCats event, visit our Seton Health ‘Cats Camera page.

Hot Rods, Home Runs and Kids In Free

Fans of all ages packed “The Joe” to see classic cars, police vehicles, fireworks and of course some baseball. Thursday’s GE Kids-In-Free Night was a very popular promotion, bringing a sellout crowd of 5,188 to “The Joe.” GE also gave away t-shirts and selected children to participate in a variety of in-game contests to enhance the always kid-friendly atmosphere.
Tonight was also Stop DWI Night, with the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee bringing representatives from local law enforcement as well as a simulator to educate fans on the dangers of drinking and driving. The pre-game parade of police cars is always a highlight and a great backdrop for the National Anthem.
Fans were treated to a pre-game car show in the parking lot near the ticket windows. Thank you to our friends from the Saratoga Automobile Museum for coordinating a great turnout.
The National Guard added another unique element to the entertainment outside the main gates with a climbing wall. Kids, trained professionals and even a few members of the ValleyCats staff braved the heights before rappelling back down.
On the field, the ValleyCats battled all night but were never able to gain the upper hand. Matt Duffy helped keep the team in the game with a 4-for-5 performance, including a home run and four RBIs, and will be headed to the All-Star Game next week. Newcomer Rafael Valenzuela has also made an impact in the limited time that he’s worn a Tri-City uniform, getting a hit in all 10 games he has played for the team. Valenzuela was 3-for-3 on the night with three runs scored.
The ‘Cats are home again for a doubleheader on Friday night. The first game begins at 5:00 pm, kicking off a four-game-set with the Hudson Valley Renegades. Friday’s theme is Farm & Agriculture night, as we celebrate this important aspect of our local economy.
Photos taken by Garrett Craig. For more pictures from every ValleyCats event, visit our Seton Health ‘Cats Camera page.

Charlie Bobblehead Night

It had been a while since the ValleyCats were able to actually play baseball at “The Joe.” After Saturday marked the first home rainout of the season, the weather on Tuesday’s Irish Night was imported straight from Ireland, forcing another postponement.
But the ‘Cats finally took the field on Wednesday, playing a doubleheader that kicked off a stretch of five games in three days as they look to make up ground in the Stedler Division. The theme was Bat Boy Appreciation Night, which included a bobblehead giveaway of longtime bat boy Charles Constantino.
Game 1 was a fast-paced pitcher’s duel that included a safety squeeze and ended with a walk-off home run from newcomer Chris Epps. Prior to receiving a shaving cream pie in the face, Epps told the crowd that this was his first walk-off home run at any level during his South End Tavern Player of the Game interview.
As part of Bat Boy Appreciation Night a new on-field contest was debuted that put fans through the trials of a bat boy. They raced to see who could pick up balls, bats and helmets, with the winner earning a nod from Charlie himself.
In between games, Charlie was recognized on the field and with a video board tribute. Current and former ValleyCats players joined the staff in saying thank you to Charlie as he prepares to work his 300th game with the team. It was amazing to see guys in the big leagues like J.D. Martinez, Brian Bogusevic and Bud Norris, who still remember Charlie.
Following the video presentation, Charlie reversed his normal pre-game role and threw out our final ceremonial first pitch to Ryan McCurdy. Charlie was also give the night off from catching the other first pitches, as fellow bat boy Alex Koppel handled those duties.
Game 2 was tight for a while but Mahoning Valley pulled away late to secure a 4-0 victory. After the game, Charlie and Alex signed autographs to cap off their big night. To Charlie, Alex, and bat boys everywhere, thank you for your dedication and hard work.
The team returns to action tomorrow night, finishing off its series against Mahoning Valley. Kids get in to Thursday’s game for free, courtesy of GE, and there will be post-game fireworks. Come on out and join the fun!
Photos taken by Garrett Craig. For more pictures from every ValleyCats event, visit our Seton Health ‘Cats Camera page.

Home Improvement

Friday, August 5th marked our 3rd Annual Home Improvement Night at “The Joe.” The stadium concourse was set up as a home show with displays from Dwight Plumbing & Heating, Eco Water, Capitaland Home Improvement, Tech Valley Recycling, Kepner Kitchens, Curtis Lumber, Culligan Water, Huff n’ Puff and Bath Fitter.
Game sponsor Trustco Bank also had a display and brought out one of SouthPaw’s favorite guests, Trusty, who joined SouthPaw on the field for a ceremonial first pitch and also participated in the t-shirt toss.
A new promotion took place on the field tonight with Caddie from Catseye Pest Control helping a contestant round up Rowdy in between innings.
Tonight also marked some improvement at home for the team on the field. The ValleyCats rallied late to earn a 3-1 victory in the first of four games against division leader Vermont.
Starter Juri Perez went six strong innings but the offense didn’t kick into gear until the bottom of the 8th. Newcomer Rafael Valenzuela drove in a run to tie the game at 1-1 and South End Tavern Player of the Game Ryan McCurdy plated two runs with a clutch two-out hit. Ryan Cole closed out the victory after two stellar innings of relief by winning pitcher Dayan Diaz.

Rafael Valenzuela, playing his first game at Joe Bruno Stadium, tied the score with an eighth-inning double.

Watch Ryan McCurdy take a pie to the face upon being named the South End Tavern Player of the Game: http://makeagif.com/i/uHmoSr
5,267 fans took in the ValleyCats victory, the eighth sellout of the season. Following the final out, Guilderland Martial Arts put on an exhibition prior to the always spectacular Price Chopper fireworks.
The ‘Cats are home again tomorrow for Adventure Sports/Outdoors Night as they look to sweep this brief two-game homestand. Tickets are still available and Boy/Girl Scouts will be invited to sleep over on the field following the game.
Photos taken by Garrett Craig. For more pictures from every ValleyCats event, visit our Seton Health ‘Cats Camera page.

State Farm Clinic and Camp Day #2

Monday was an eventful day at “The Joe.” It began with a free youth baseball clinic for children from the Albany Police Athletic League courtesy of State Farm.
Manager Stubby Clapp and Houston Astros roving instructor Milt Thompson joined members of the ‘Cats front office to help provide instruction to dozens of children before the ValleyCats’ game.
The kids learned the basics of baseball at several stations, including throwing and catching, pop flies, infield drills and baseball lingo.
 
Our second and final Camp Day game of the season was a lot of fun with over 40 camps in attendance! The game started at 11 a.m., giving thousands of kids a chance to watch some daytime baseball.
To kick things off, Troy native and longtime R.P.I. baseball coach, Karl Steffen, painted the corner with one of our ceremonial first pitches. R.P.I. Athletics was on hand at the Top of the Hill to enjoy the afternoon game.
For the few who have not seen the clip, ‘Cats manager Stubby Clapp stole the show with his first ejection of the season. The team responded with a brief rally but couldn’t come all the way back, as Auburn completed a sweep with a 13-6 win.
Following the game, the team travelled to Jamestown for a three game set and will return on Friday for a series against Vermont. That game is presented by Trustco bank and will feature post-game fireworks courtesy of Price Chopper.
Tri-City vs. Auburn was not the only game played at “The Joe” yesterday, as the front office staff took advantage of the matinee game to get out onto the field themselves for a 4:00 pm tilt. The full-time staff dominated the interns, who narrowly escaped the ten-run rule. Stadium Operations manager Keith Sweeney pitched five strong innings, with vice president/GM Rick Murphy pacing the offense on the way to a 10-1 rout.
Photos taken by Garrett Craig. For more pictures from every ValleyCats event, visit our Seton Health ‘Cats Camera page.

Hall of Fame Night

Saturday was Hall of Fame Night at “The Joe,” as some special guests joined us from Cooperstown. The Frank and Peggy Steele Interns from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum visited the ballpark and enjoyed a pre-game presentation that featured ‘Cats president Bill Gladstone, vice president/general manager Rick Murphy and field manager Stubby Clapp.
 
The Hall of Fame display on the concourse included some great game-used artifacts such as Derek Jeter’s bat, Pedro Martinez jersey, and Craig Biggio’s batting gloves. The items that were closest to home were a glove and cleats used by Troy native Johnny Evers. It was amazing to see how much the equipment has changed since the early 1900′s.
 
Best Fire was the game sponsor and set-up a patio display on the concourse. Those seats looked great by the Hot Corner and would probably be even better in someone’s backyard.
 
The Exxon Mobile Tour was also in the house again with giveaways, prizes and the Dizzy Dipstick race.
 
Our friends John and Regina Cole from Cole’s Collision Centers were good-natured participants in the “Know Your Partner” game between innings.
 
Despite eleven hits by the offense and a solid start from Nick Tropeano, the ‘Cats dropped a tough 4-3 decision. They will be back at it on Sunday for game two against the Auburn Doubledays. MVP Health Care presents another Sunday Funday as we pay tribute to the men and women who keep the Capital Region and beyond safe with Community Heroes Night.

Brandon Meredith slides into second with a stolen base in the second inning.

Nick Tropeano battled through five innings, allowing two runs and striking out six batters.

Photos taken by Garrett Craig. For more pictures from every ValleyCats event, visit our Seton Health ‘Cats Camera page.

Viva Italia!

Spaghetti, baseballs, home runs, fireworks, and a bit of rain … this game had it all!
Italian Night at “The Joe” is always a festive occasion and tonight was no exception. The pre-game ceremonies were highlighted by simultaneous first pitches from both of Troy’s mayoral candidates, Carmella Mantello and Louis Rosamilia. Thank you both for joining us tonight and best of luck with your campaigns.
Tonight’s game was sponsored by the U.S. Army and included a ceremony to swear in several new soldiers on the field. The Army’s Humvees participated in the t-shirt toss and Staff Sergeant Pedro sang the national anthem.
As part of the ValleyCats Night of Champions program, several teams from Twin Town Little League were recognized on the field for their accomplishments this season.
For the second night in a row, the Cats’ bats put at least eight runs on the board. Even a 55-minute rain delay couldn’t slow the offense down as Matt Duffy, Miles Hamblin, John Hinson, and Drew Muren all homered to power the 8-1 victory. Adam Champion went four-and-2/3rds innings in relief to earn the win.

Matt Duffy hits his first professional home run in the second inning, giving the 'Cats a 1-0 lead.

Right fielder Drew Muren was named the South End Tavern Player of the Game. Along with a South End gift certificate, he earned a pie in the face courtesy of Charlie.

Drew Muren went 2-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs and took a pie in the face after being named the South End Tavern Player of the Game.

Fans seeking autographs enjoyed a special treat after the game as ‘Cats manager Stubby Clapp joined Bubby Williams to sign on the concourse after the always-amazing Price Chopper fireworks.
Saturday’s game will mark a very special visit from the Hall of Fame as they display artifacts from all-time greats such as Derek Jeter and Troy native Johnny Evers right here at “The Joe.” Join us for the game and this rare opportunity to see these items outside of Cooperstown.
Photos by Garrett Craig. For more pictures from every ValleyCats event, visit our Seton Health ‘Cats Camera page.

Going Green; Girls of Summer

Wednesday was the ValleyCats 4th Annual Going Green Night. The concourse at “The Joe” was populated with all kinds of educational displays.
National Grid taught fans about how much energy old appliances consume in comparison to new ones. Fans were invited to autograph an old energy-hogging refrigerator to help illustrate the point.
The U.S.D.A. and D.E.C. educated fans on the importance of containing the Emerald Ash Borer Beetle and not allowing it to spread into unaffected areas of the northeast. This message carries a special significance to baseball, as this bug destroys ash trees, a major source of wood for baseball bats. A unique display on how a bat is made was included as part of their exhibit. For more information on this threat, go to: http://www.stopthebeetle.info/ and remember, DON’T MOVE FIREWOOD!
Gallivan Companies was on hand for the second consecutive year to showcase some of their lawn care and landscaping services.
Prior to the game, Tech Valley Recycling collected old electronics in the parking lot. This was a great opportunity for fans to dispose of old electronic devices in a safe and environmentally friendly manner.
At the gates, fans received re-usable grocery bags as they entered the ballpark.
NYSERDA, Culligan Water, John Ray & Sons, Eco Water, Waste Management, the E.R.C. Community Warehouse and Bath Fitter were also on hand to inform fans on ways to save energy and live a greener on a day-to-day basis. Our Going Green mascot, Zoggy, was also involved throughout the game, teaching fans how to recycle.
On the field, the team took a tough 2-1 loss despite another strong outing from righty Jonas Dufek.

____________________

Girls of Summer Night took place at “The Joe” on Thursday, with women from the Capital Region honored for their accomplishments in business and the community. The theme featured a pre-game networking event in the Time Warner Cable Picnic Pavilion and an awards ceremony on the field prior to the first pitch.
ValleyCats Vice President/General Manager Rick Murphy presented four women with awards as part of the festivities. The recipients were:
Denise Dubois from Complexions Spa for Beauty & Wellness
Carrie Hillenbrandt from BBL Hospitality
Julia Chiarello from GE Renewables
Alicia Germano from 3t Architects
The Girl Scouts participated in pre-game activities on the concourse as part of the Girls of Summer Night. Baseball Buddies was transformed into Softball Buddies, as players from Pine Bush Girls Softball, East Greenbush Girls Softball, Latham Lassies and the West Albany Athletic Association joined the ‘Cats on the field for the national anthem.
Between the lines, the ValleyCats crossed the plate eight times in the first inning, which would be all the runs they would need en route to a 9-5 win. Everyone in the lineup reached base safely and Matt Duffy earned South End Tavern Player of the Game honors for his two-hit, three-RBI performance. Dayan Diaz earned his fourth win, giving him the team lead and tying him for second in the league.
The homestand continues on Friday with Italian Night, presented by the U.S. Army. Come out to the game with your paisanos and stick around for post game fireworks, courtesy of Price Chopper!

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

Cooperstown Notebook

The ValleyCats made a special trip down to Cooperstown today, playing their annual meeting against the Tigers at Doubleday Field. The game coincides with the Hall of Fame Induction Weekend – Andre Dawson, Doug Harvey and Whitey Herzog will be officially inducted tomorrow afternoon – so the town is always full of excitement and energy. Combined with the historic nature of the field and area, it’s a great atmosphere for a ballgame.

Things are a little crazier this year, because the Tigers moved to Connecticut in the offseason. When they played in Oneonta, the Cooperstown game was a perfect fit, but this time around the ‘Cats have a very rough travel schedule: they finished a game at Aberdeen on Thursday night; drove nearly six hours up to Norwich, CT on Friday for a game that was postponed due to rain; spent four hours on the bus to get to Cooperstown for the 1:00 start today; and embarked on a 4.5-hour trip after the game to Vermont, where they will play at 1:05 tomorrow (Sunday).

But despite the crazy schedule, the players seemed pretty excited to play on Doubleday Field. They certainly got their money’s worth, playing a 13-inning marathon (longest of the season) that lasted three hours and 36 minutes and forced me to use a second scoresheet for the first time this season (mine go to 11). I was kind of wishing the game had taken place at home, just to see the kind of chaos that would have exploded on the whiteboard. 17 ValleyCats and 18 Tigers appeared in the game, including three pinch-runners, two pinch-hitters and eleven pitchers.

Each team had quite a few chances to put the game away – eleven different runners reached scoring position in the ninth and extras – so there were quite a few interesting tactical decisions made in the late innings. Here are some of the ones worth pointing out:

Look into the box score, and you’ll see an unusual move in the top of the ninth inning – the ValleyCats pinch-hit for their DH with their backup catcher. That doesn’t happen often. Now, nobody will argue it was the wrong decision – it regained the platoon advantage with lefty Logan Hoch on the mound, and Stanley isn’t exactly killing the ball regardless – and the results backed that up, as Afenir came through with the biggest hit of the day, a line-drive double to right-center that plated Dan Adamson.

On the very next batter, Connecticut made a decision that I think more teams in this league should copy. Jacke Healey pinch-ran for Afenir, and the ‘Cats were pretty clearly going to bunt – Wilton Infante, one of their best bunters, was batting, and the go-ahead run was on second. Connecticut aggressively blitzed Infante on the pitch, so that when Infante laid the bunt down, the first baseman was no more than 30 feet from the plate. It worked, as Infante bunted the ball right back to the pitcher, who had plenty of time to nail Healey at third. It was a poor bunt by Infante, but given how Connecticut played it, he would have needed to execute a very good bunt down the third-base line to successfully advance the runner. Most teams I’ve seen will play more conservatively in that situation, conceding the runner’s advancement while getting the batter out. I’m not a fan of playing exclusively for one run in that situation to begin with, but if teams are going to predictably bunt in those situations, it’s possible to exploit it and get the lead runner out more often.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, lefty Chao-Ting Tang came up with one on and one out against southpaw Travis Blankenship, and I thought for sure a pinch-hitter was coming, but Connecticut left him in. Tang hit a line drive, but it became a 6-3 double play when pinch-runner Matt Mansilla strayed too farr off first. (That was a perplexing play in its own right – Tang’s ball wasn’t hit all that hard, and it was obvious to everyone in the ballpark except Mansilla that it would be caught.) There are plenty of reasons to let Tang hit in that situation, so I didn’t think much of it until the 13th inning. Tang came up again in that frame with one on and one out against a lefty (Adam Champion)…but this time, the Tigers pinch-hit with righty Chris Sedon. That didn’t work out for them either, as Sedon struck out, setting the stage for Ryan Soares’s game-winning single. But I’m not sure what happened between the ninth and 13th innings to make pinch-hitting suddenly seem like a good idea (especially because, if I were to pick one to have a bigger expected platoon split, I’d definitely go with Blankenship over Champion as being relatively tougher on lefties).

‘Cats manager Jim Pankovits did a great job of managing his bullpen in extra innings. Blankenship was deep into his second inning of work when he got Josh Ashenbrenner to ground into a fielder’s choice for the second out. That put runners on first and third with righty Alex Nunez coming up – the Tigers’ cleanup hitter, who had two hits already in the game – and I thought for sure Blankenship would come out of the game for a righty. Blankenship has done well against right-handed hitters so far this year, but I’m not sure that’s sustainable – he comes from a low arm slot and throws a lot of breaking balls, two qualities that tend to make a pitcher vulnerable to opposite-handed batters. But Pankovits stuck with Blankenship, and it worked out in the end. He got Nunez down 1-2, then hit him with a breaking ball – which was better than leaving one out over the plate, given the situation. Then he induced an easy ground ball from the next batter, lefty Eric Roof, getting out of the jam.

Pankovits made another interesting decision in the 12th. With one out and PJ Polk on third, he had Brandt Walker intentionally walk Josh Ashenbrenner to pitch to Nunez. The reasoning for this wasn’t very obvious at the time – it seemed a sideways move at best, one that wasn’t necessarily detrimental but somewhat pointless. The ValleyCats weren’t setting up a double play – they kept the infield in after the walk – nor were they loading the bases to set up a force at home. I didn’t have stats with me at the time, but I checked and sure enough, the rationale became pretty obvious. With one out and a fast runner on third, Tri-City pretty much needed a strikeout to stay in the game (or an infield popup or a hard, at-’em grounder, but those are less common and less predictable). Ashenbrenner has only four strikeouts in 93 at-bats this year, while Nunez has fanned 34 times in 118. Sure enough, Walker sent Nunez down swinging, and got Roof to line out to escape a seemingly impossible bind.

The one decision that didn’t pan out came in the 13th, when Pankovits elected to bring in Jorge De Leon with two outs to face Soares, who drilled the first pitch for a game-winning single. But you certainly can’t second-guess Pankovits for this one – he got his closer into the game against a hot hitter in a critical situation. (If anything, I would have brought De Leon in to face Sedon once the pinch-hitter was announced, but Champion handled him just fine.) It didn’t work out this time, but the managing instinct was the right one – have your better relievers pitch in the most important situations. If Jerry Manuel does that today, the Mets might not lose again.*

*The Mets have played 52 games on the road this season, and have 12 walk-off defeats. That’s completely insane. Yet, Manuel was content to watch another celebration today without ever getting his best reliever in to the game.

Soares, of course, lined a single into center, and pinch-runner Les Smith scored from second to win the game. Adamson’s throw home was on target, but his arm isn’t the strongest, and it bounced home a step too late to catch Smith at the plate.

Tyler Burnett continues to absolutely rake – he went 3-for-5 with a walk and a 12th-inning double today. Burnett also scored a pair of runs; he is now tied for second in the league in doubles and tied for third in walks.

The ‘Cats as a team stroked five doubles today. Wilton Infante nearly had a sixth, but Polk made a fantastic leaping catch up against the wall in right-center-field. Nobody went yard, which came as a bit of a surprise given the friiendly confines (296 down the left-field line, 338 to the marking in left-center, 316 to right); besides Infante, Adam Bailey came closest to a homer, hitting a fly to the warning track to straightaway center, easily the deepest part of the park at 390 ft.

Mike Kvasnicka had another pretty good night with the bat, 2-for-6 with a double. After a rough first month of the season, his batting average is now up to .200, and I bet he’s at least a .270 hitter from this point forward, if not better.

Walker had two nice strikeouts in the eleventh inning as well, throwing a nice breaking ball to Julio Rodriguez for the first out and then getting Soares to chase a pitch in the dirt with the winning run on second.

Andrew Robinson pitched really well, but was bitten by some very rough luck. He gave up three hits in three innings, but they came back-to-back-to-back, leading to two runs. Even worse, none of the balls was hit well – a chopper that hung in the air too long, a high bloop down the right-field line and a soft grounder up the middle.

David Martinez, on the other hand, was a bit lucky to even get through the first three innings with only three runs allowed (six hits). He was putting pitches over the plate, and Connecticut was taking advantage – in the first two frames, Martinez faced 10 hitters and threw only 17 pitches. Martinez settled down, though, and retired the last eight batters he faced.

Ben Heath had been mired in a bit of a slump – 3 for his previous 23 entering today’s game – so it was nice to see him come up with a big hit in the third inning. His double brought home Kik&eacute Hernandez and enabled the three-run outburst that tied the game.

Some pictures from today’s memorable game:

Pankovits hits some grounders during warm-ups:

warmups

Hitting coach Joel Chimelis talks to Kik&eacute and Kvasnicka before the game:

chimmy

Ben Orloff signs an autograph for a lucky fan:

Orloff autograph

Things got kind of cramped in the small dugouts:

TCdugout

CTdugout

Connecticut came up with an interesting solution: put players in the stands!

CTstands

Kvasnicka at bat:

Kvasnicka batting

Buck Afenir is congratulated after his game-tying double:

Afenir celebration

scoreboard

The Tigers celebrate the walk-off victory:

celebration

Doubleday Field

Kevin Whitaker

Power Outage scenes and thoughts

At one point in yesterday’s game, I actually began to wonder if we might be able to finish the game in under two hours. It would have ben a stretch, but didn’t seem like a ridiculous proposition: the sixth inning was almost complete at 8:29, just an hour and 25 minutes after the game began. Carlos Quevedo was throwing great for Tri-City – 6 IP, 3 H, 0 BB, 0 R on 65 pitches – and the Vermont pitchers also working quickly, allowing just one run and no walks. Neither side had needed more than 15 pitches to complete an inning, and with potentially only two and a half innings left to play, it seemed possible.

Then, the scoreboard went dark, the lights went off, and ominous black smoke started escaping from the roof of the generator building behind the left-center field fence. You probably know the story by now. The game was delayed for 61 minutes until all the lights finally came back on and play could resume. In the meantime, the ValleyCats gathered outside the third-base dugout, entertaining fans and themselves by throwing items into the stands. The postgame fireworks show was instead launched during the delay to keep the crowd engaged.

Eventually the game was resumed. Vermont decided that, even after the delay, it had not been at the ballpark long enough, and scored a run in the eighth to force extra innings. Each team had a runner in scoring position in the ninth and tenth, but neither could score. In the eleventh, Vermont finally broke through. Henry Jimenez – who had entered the game in the ninth as a pinch-runner for designated hitter David Freitas – led off the inning with a single through the right side, and came around to score on a two-out single by pinch-hitter Justin Miller. The ValleyCats couldn’t answer, and Vermont had a 2-1 victory.

The 61-minute delay provided some of the wildest scenes of the season.

Infielder Enrique Hernandez became an honorary member of VCN, taping Elliot’s camera to the top of his head:

Photobucket

Hernandez wanted to bring the camera out with him to coach first base, but the rest of us thought that was a bad idea.

The players throw giveaway items into the stands:

Photobucket

Mike Kvasnicka stole some frisbees from Southpaw to throw into the crowd:
Photobucket

Fun Facts: As long as Wednesday might have been for the ValleyCats, it was even longer for John Isner and Nicolas Mahut at Wimbledon. Isner and Mahut began their match on Wednesday…and didn’t finish until Thursday, as Isner took the final set 70-68. Tri-City and Vermont could have almost played their game twice, complete with power delays, in the time it took the tennis pros to complete their fifth set alone (8 hours, 11 minutes).

In fact, in the 11 hours and 5 minutes it took Isner and Mahut to play their match, the ValleyCats could have…
    …put on 44 consecutive firework displays
    …waited through 11 power outage delays
    …in which they could have thrown an estimated 22,000 items into the stands
    …including 11 cardboard boxes, signed by a dozen ValleyCats.
Photobucket

I think we’re all glad it didn’t come to that.

===

Some notes from the game:

The ValleyCats’ pitching staff is due for regression at some point – that 1.73 ERA is simply not sustainable for any team. But I am confident that Carlos Quevedo will continue to have a lot of success at this level. You can’t help but appreciate the righty’s pitching style. How’s this for going after hitters: In his first start, Quevedo threw first-pitch strikes to the first 12 batters he faced. Last night? 14 of the first 15. His fastball only sits around 89-91, but it gets on hitters really quickly, enabling him to challenge batters up in the zone and succeed. The stadium shadows last night helped a bit with that deception, but it was still impressive. Quevedo’s second pitch is a slow curve, which seemed to come in around 74-76 mph (though I trust the stadium gun a little less in this range, as it was showing a few curves at 61); it was very useful for him last night, although he did get some help from the umpire on a couple hooks.

Quevedo was the player affected most by the power outage: he was only at 65 pitches at the time of the delay, and would have pitched the seventh inning (although likely no more). He only allowed three hits – all singles – and now has not given up a walk in 10.1 innings this seasion. He currently ranks second in the NYPL with 10 strikeouts.

The bullpen was not as lights-out last night as it had been. The overall line is good – five innings, one earned run – but that overstates its effectiveness. The first run counted as unearned, but Tri-City pitchers were hardly blameless – Joan Belliard hit Ronnie LaBrie with one out, Travis Blankenship walked LaBrie over to third with two, and then Andrew Robinson walked the next batter to bring in the run. That was uncharacteristic of a team that has had remarkable control this season. The ‘pen held Vermont scoreless in the ninth and tenth, but didn’t make it easy, stranding a runner on second in the ninth and leaving the bases loaded in the tenth with the help of a baserunning out.

I was very impressed with the ValleyCats’ fielding. The outfielders threw out three runners on the basepaths. In the first inning, Chad Mozingo tried to stretch his leadoff single into a double, but hesitated a bit coming around first, allowing a strong throw by Renzo Tello to beat him to second base. In the tenth inning, Rick Hughes tried to score the go-ahead run on a soft single to right, but Michael Kvasnicka’s throw arrived well before Hughes and catcher Buck Afenir held onto the ball in the collision. In the eleventh, Cole Leonida tried to score an insurance run from second with two outs, but Tello again delivered a good throw to end the inning. Ben Orloff added a terrific sliding catch deep in foul territory in the fifth inning, while Oscar Figueroa, starting at third for the first time, made a nice play on a grounder in the second.

But the story, as always, is that the ‘Cats can’t hit. I already covered that theme this week, and one more game doesn’t change my opinion much. Still, Tri-City is batting just .197 on the season, which is not good.

Kvasnicka continued his hitless streak, going 0-for-1 in two plate appearances. The rookie did not start, but pinch-hit for Adam Bailey in the ninth with Burnett on first and one out. From the right side, he took a big swing through the first pitch, but eventually worked a walk. He got up again in the eleventh, this time from the left side and again with Burnett on first. The ‘Cats called a hit-and-run but got a bad pitch as Kvasnicka swung and missed at a fastball up and out of the zone, hanging Burnett out to dry between first and second and effectively ending the ‘Cats’ rally. Kvasnicka went down swinging on a ball in the dirt two pitches later.

He’s back in the lineup tonight, in the three-hole and starting at third. Let’s hope he breaks out of the slump.

Kevin Whitaker

Crazy game

Here’s the media board from today’s wild 11-inning thriller, which featured three pinch-hitters, a pinch-runner and nine pitching changes:

More to come tomorrow.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.