TROY- The Tri-City ValleyCats on Sunday used an explosive seventh inning to take game two of a three game series from the Aberdeen IronBirds 9-3 in front of 3,464 fans at Joe Bruno Stadium.
With the ‘Cats up 4-3 entering the bottom of the 7th inning, the team erupted for five runs to open the gap and put the game away. Jonathan Arauz and Bryan De La Cruz singled in the first two runs of the inning to extend the lead to 6-3 in favor of the ‘Cats. Arauz then scored on a wild pitch to make the game 7-3 and JJ Matijevic singled in Kyle Davis and De La Cruz to push across the final runs of the inning and make it a 9-3 game.
“Today unlike the previous days we hit the ball hard and found the holes and a lot of guys had a good game,” manager Morgan Ensberg said after the game.
Before the 7th inning eruption and with the team down by a run in the 5th, Michael Papierski gave the ‘Cats a 4-3 lead with a two run home run to left field which was almost brought back by Aberdeen left fielder Jaylen Ferguson. “(I knew it was gone) when he fell to the ground and I saw he didn’t have it,” Papierski said laughing after the game.
Starter Matt Ruppenthal gave up one earned run on three hits while walking five and striking out four in his three innings of work. Tonight’s winner Colin McKee came on for Ruppenthal in the 4th and gave up two runs (one earned) on one hit while walking three and striking out four over two innings.
Nathan Thompson earned the save tonight pitching four scoreless innings while only giving up one hit. He added four strikeouts and three walks to his line as well.
“Thompson has had a great year, he throws an invisible baseball and he has been a really nice bright spot for us this year,” Ensberg said after the game on Thompson’s season thus far. Ensberg would also go on to credit Thompson’s success this season to his ability to locate and force batters to miss.
OF NOTE: De La Cruz finished Sunday going 3-5 at the plate with two RBI and a run scored. Matijevic had two hit, two RBI day at the plate and Arauz contributed a pair of hits and runs scored with an RBI as well. Also, 2017 first round pick J.B. Bukauskas was promoted to the ValleyCats early Sunday, it is currently unknown when he will make his team debut.
The ValleyCats (22-23) and IronBirds (27-19) square off for the rubber match of the series on Monday at 7 p.m. at Joe Bruno Stadium.