Results tagged ‘ Staten Island Yankees ’

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

Notebook: Quality starts

Despite a blowout loss last night, the ValleyCats’ home series against the league-leading Staten Island Yankees ended about as well as they could have expected: with two victories in three games. The biggest reason was starting pitching, as Jonas Dufek and Euris Quezada combined for 11.1 innings of one-run ball in the wins.

For Dufek, this was nothing new: with six scoreless innings on Saturday, the righty has not allowed a run in 20.1 frames, the last 18 of which have come in three wins at home. This most recent start was his best yet; in six innings against one of the league’s best offenses, Dufek allowed just two walks and two hits – both grounders, one of which stayed in the infield. In past starts, Dufek had been working in and out of frequent jams, but on Saturday he was just great.

In particular, Dufek worked out of the zone frequently, getting a lot of swings and misses. The Yankees rank near the bottom of the league in walk rate; Dufek said after the game that he knew they were going to be aggressive, and he exploited it well.

The more surprising start came from Euris Quezada 22 hours later. Up to that point, Quezada had not put together any particularly good outings; in his first five starts, he never recorded more than 12 outs and never allowed fewer than three runs.

But Quezada came out looking very sharp in the first inning on Sunday, and maintained that performance until hitting a bit of a wall with two outs in the sixth. Quezada had a tick more velocity than usual, up in the 91-93 range. But most of his damage was done with the slider, which probably accounted for more than half of his 62 pitches. The 83-84 mph offering, usually thrown over the inner half to righties, generated four or five of his strikeouts and allowed Quezada to retire 11 straight hitters during his second time through the order.

Quezada lowered his ERA nearly two runs to 7.04.

Some other notes from the weekend:

-John Hinson made a great play in the third inning of Saturday’s game, leaping to grab a high line drive and doubling off Jhorge Liccien by inches at first. He also turned a fantastic double play in the ninth inning on Monday, making a lightning-fast exchange to get Shane Brown by half a step at first.

-The ValleyCats’ outfield defense was on display again on Sunday. Neiko Johnson took a couple games to get readjusted to the outfield, but he made a great read to come in on a low line drive by Mason Williams. Three innings later, Justin Gominsky robbed Williams of an extra-base hit, flying all the way from the third-base side of center to the right-field gap to run down a high fly ball.

-Stubby Clapp put nine righties in the lineup against southpaw Evan DeLuca, who came in with the league’s fourth-best ERA. It worked out well, as the ‘Cats racked up 12 hits in the game, including five off DeLuca and two when the Yankees followed with a left-handed reliever.

-The Cats’ outburst on Sunday could have been even greater – they scored eight runs in eight innings despite having three runners caught stealing.

-Brandon Meredith has such sneaky speed. He absolutely flies from first to third, and then you look at him (6’2”, 225 lbs.) and you just think, how did he do that? He hit a gapper to right-center in the sixth inning of Sunday’s game and Stubby held up a stop sign as he headed towards second; Meredith never slowed down and slid into third without a throw for his third triple of the season.

-Though his final line was ugly, Dayan Diaz looked great on Monday. He retired the first six batters he faced in order, striking out four with even more electric stuff than usual. His fastball, usually at 95, ticked up to 96 a couple times and even hit 97 in a big spot, going up the ladder to strike out Mason Williams with the bases loaded in the sixth.

Diaz’s fastball isn’t just fast, it has some life too, most noticeably when it ran back to the inside corner to send the left-handed Williams down looking in the fourth. I wouldn’t worry too much about the rocky sixth inning; he’s thrown three innings without faltering before, and with a reliever’s frame and a reliever’s arsenal, he’s likely to have shorter and shorter outings as he climbs the professional ladder.

-Tip for any Yankees fans that read this: former first-round draft pick Cito Culver can’t hit from the left side. I’m far from the first person to say this, but his swing there is not pretty and the numbers have backed it up – he’s 19-for-113 (.168) from the left side in the NYPL in the last two years. Manager Stubby Clapp said after the game that he left a tiring Diaz in to face Culver in the sixth because he wanted to keep Culver on that side (which worked out okay for the Yankees, as Diaz issued a seven-pitch RBI walk). On the flip side, he can mash lefties (20-for-45), as Adam Champion found out when he gave up a double to the center-field wall in the first inning.

Division rival Connecticut is in town tonight and 11 a.m. tomorrow. Listen to the game live, as usual.

Kevin Whitaker

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