TROY — Just as all things looked down and out for the ValleyCats on Thursday night, Gilberto Celestino sent the 4,809 fans in attendance home happy with his seventh inning go-ahead home run that propelled the ‘Cats to their 7-3 win.
The Cyclones struck first in the second inning when Cody Deason gave up an RBI single to Carlos Cortes, putting Brooklyn ahead 1-0. Deason was pulled after two innings allowing just the one earned run on four hits with one walk.
Then in the 3rd, the ‘Cats knotted the game at one a piece when Alex McKenna singled to center which scored Michael Wielansky.
In the following inning, Austin Dennis came across home on a throwing error by Cyclones shortstop Manny Rodriguez, giving the ‘Cats a 2-1 lead.
However, reliever Austin Hansen gave up the game trying home run in the top of the fifth to Cortes. Hansen’s night ended after three innings of work as he gave up three hits and allowed only the home run to come across the plate.
In the top half of the 6th, the Cyclones reclaimed the lead on a fielders choice that turned into a throwing error by second baseman Dennis, putting them ahead 3-2.
As the game moved into the 7th the ‘Cats were looking for some magic. With 2 outs in the inning, Celestino took a 3-1 inside fastball deep over the left field wall, giving the ‘Cats a 4-3 lead.
“I didn’t want to swing on 3-0 because I didn’t see the pitch I was looking for,” said Celestino after the game through his translator.
When asked if he knew the ball was leaving the yard on contact, Celestino said with a laugh, “I knew it was a home run, I looked up quick and put my head down because I knew it was gone.”
He later added, “They have been pitching me inside all series so I was looking for that on 3-1.”
Later in the 7th inning, two more runs scored after Luis Encarnacion’s single to shortstop turned into a throwing error as the ball short hopped the first baseman. As the ball rolled to the fence, McKenna and Enmanuel Valdez came across home to extend the ‘Cats lead to 6-3.
McKenna extended the ‘Cats lead further in the 8th inning with a 2 out base hit to left. Ramiro Rodriguez scored on the hit and put the ‘Cats up 7-3.
Tim Hardy then took care of business in the 8th inning. He retired the side 1-2-3 in the 8th as he recorded two strikeouts in the process. However, he ran into some early trouble in the 9th as he allowed the first two batters to reach on base hits. Hardy would end up escaping the jam by retiring the next three in order to preserve the ‘Cats 7-3 win.
Manger Jason Bell came into tonight not worried about the possibility of being swept at home. Rather he looked at Thursday night’s game as another chance to win.
“I try not to look at it at the negative perspective of trying not to get swept because then you’re already coming in a hole,” Bell said. “I look at it as another opportunity to win a game so that way you can just fresh and not think about the negativity.”
The ValleyCats (19-14) prepare for a weekend road trip against the Staten Island Yankees (18-15) before returning home on July 24.