TROY — Backed by strong pitching and the long ball, the Tri-City ValleyCats followed up their thrilling walk-off win on Wednesday night with a 6-1 win over the Hudson Valley Renegades on Thursday night in front of a crowd of 4,255 at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium.
It didn’t take long for the ValleyCats to strike first. With one on and two out in the first inning, Luis Encarnacion ripped a towering home run to right field, putting the ‘Cats ahead 2-0.
The Renegades then got on the board in the top of the 4th. Their leadoff hitter in the inning, Jacson McGowan, took Carlos Hiraldo deep to right field on a 1-2 pitch to cut the ‘Cats lead to 2-1.
Putting the home run aside, Hiraldo put together a quality outing. He went five innings giving up one earned run on the homer while allowing six hits. He also struck out four Renegades and walked just one.
“I thought Hiraldo did a good job battling with runners on,” said manager Jason Bell after the game. “He made a lot of big pitches in situations where they had a chance to scrap back into the game like we did yesterday, so he made big pitches when he needed to.”
The ‘Cats found the scoreboard again in the bottom of the 5th. Nathan Perry, who was making his ValleyCats debut Thursday blasted a 2-0 pitch 408 feet over the hedges in right field for his first homerun with the team, giving them a 3-1 lead.
When asked if he had ever hit a ball that far, Perry simply said, “No sir, not even close.”
A leadoff walk by Enmanuel Valdez followed by a single from Alex McKenna set the ‘Cats up for a big sixth. On a steal attempt by McKenna, Valdez came home after the ball was mishandled by Hudson Valley catcher Erik Ostberg, ultimately rolling to the backstop, putting the ‘Cats ahead 4-1. However, the ‘Cats stranded a pair of runners and had to settle for just one run in the promising inning.
With runners on second and third base and one gone in the seventh, Enmanuel Valdez hit into a fielders choice to first base that scored Trey Dawson from third to put the ‘Cats up 5-1. The next batter, Alex McKenna, ripped a single into left field to score Michael Wielansky from third putting the ‘Cats ahead 6-1.
Nivaldo Rodriguez provided the ‘Cats with four scoreless innings of relief on the night. Over his four innings of work, Rodriguez allowed no runs on three hits while striking out six and walking two.
“He made big pitches when he needed to especially in the 8th inning when they had bases loaded and one out,” Bell said. “He got a big strikeout and the ground ball where even if it’s a base hit and it’s 6-3 it’s like they’re clawing back and it gives them a chance, so I thought he made some big pitches when he needed to as well.”
The ValleyCats (30-22) and Renegades (31-21) meet again at 7 p.m. on Friday night at Joseph L. Bruno stadium for the final game of the series.