TROY — A quick and steady pregame rain couldn’t keep 4,602 fans away from “The Joe” on Friday night to watch the Tri-City ValleyCats take down the Vermont Lake Monsters 3-2 in a walk-off thriller.
Tri-City starter Franny Cobos found himself in trouble early after a hit by pitch, error and walk loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the first. After a pair of infield flies on two consecutive pitches, Cobos walked home a run to give Vermont a 1-0 lead.
Cobos settled down following the first, finishing the night with five innings on the bump while surrendering the one unearned run in the first on one hit with four strikeouts and two walks added to his line.
It was not long before the ValleyCats found the board. With one out and none on in the bottom of the second, Houston Astros 2019 23rd round pick Zach Biermann launched his first career home run to right field which tied the game at one.
Both teams failed to cross home again until the bottom of the fourth when 2019 10th round pick C.J. Stubbs took Lake Monsters starter Richard Morban deep to left-center for his second home run in as many days to give the ‘Cats a 2-1 lead.
The Lake Monsters knotted the game at two in the sixth when ‘Cats reliever Brayan De Paula balked home a run with two outs in the inning.
In the seventh the Lake Monsters would threaten once again. Two hit batsmen and a dribble single down the third base line loaded the bases with two out for Kevin Richards. However, De Paula escaped the jam this time getting Richards to fly out to center. From here, both teams were held in check until the final frame.
After Nate Perry led off the ninth with a single, Astros first round selection Korey Lee delivered his first clutch hit as a professional with a walk-off double off the left-center wall on a 3-2 count, giving the ‘Cats a thrilling 3-2 win.
“It’s unbelievable, it’s an unbelievable feeling to celebrate with the team,” said Lee. “The splashing of the water on me was awesome.”
All three runs driven in on the night came from 2019 draft selections, which shows manager Ozney Guillen that his young players have adapted to the professional level quickly.
“It’s just nice to see that they’re comfortable,” said Guillen. “Going from college to professional baseball it is different, the game moves different, the wood bat…all that stuff. I’m just glad to see that they’re comfortable.”
The teams will meet again at 7 p.m. on Saturday night at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium for the second game of the three game series. The ‘Cats will send Guadalupe Chavez (0-0, 0.00 ERA) to the mound while the Lake Monsters are expected to roll with Hogan Harris (0-1, 8.10 ERA).
Of Note: Korey Lee recorded three of the ‘Cats eight hits on the night, including the walk-off double, as part of his 3-4 outing. Lee is now hitting .412 on the early season.