TROY — Even though the ValleyCats were clearly the better team for the first few innings, it was hardly the way it ended Sunday as they lost to the Brooklyn Cyclones 6-2.
The ValleyCats were swinging hot bats in the early portion of the game. After getting on base by way of a one out single, shortstop AJ Lee used a balk by Brooklyn pitcher Alec Kisena and a groundout to get to third base before another balk brought him home. The ‘Cats got another one out hit in the second inning when Luis Santana doubled to right field. He was brought home by Bryan Arias who smacked a line drive into the right-center field gap. Both the center fielder and the right fielder pursued the ball but once it hit the wall they struggled to recover it, giving Arias time to leg out a triple. AJ Lee came up again in the third and got another one out hit, this one a double down the left field line. This was the last hit of the night for Tri-City as Brooklyn held them hitless for the last six and two thirds of an inning.
“The pitcher adjusted really well, our guys didn’t. Sometimes that happens. I think we lost focus. When we get happy with the 2-0 lead, games like these get flipped over,” said ValleyCats manager Ozney Guillen.
Former University of Texas pitcher and seventh rounder Blair Henley provided a stable presence on the mound so Tri-City could build their lead. In his first appearance with the team, Henley went three innings striking out three batters. He gave up only two hits, both in his final inning of work. Guillen went with a combination of Jayson Schroeder, Shea Barry and Garrett Gayle to finish out the game.
Henley said, “I had to get the jitters out of the way at first being my first pro start, but it was pretty cool… I was just trying to attack the zone and keep them off the fastball. Get weak contact but of course we want to strike them out.”
The Cyclones didn’t get on much of a run until the sixth inning. After two infield singles and an error loaded the bases, Schroeder lost what little control he had, walking in the first run. Wilmer Reyes deflected a ball off of Schroeder to tie the game and then Anthony Dirocie skated a ball past the third baseman to score another two runs. Brooklyn tacked on two more runs in the top of the ninth, giving Tri-City a four run deficit to try and come back from, which they did not do.
The loss drops the ValleyCats 7-14 on the year. They will have two more cracks at the Cyclones Monday night and Tuesday morning.
Manager Guillen said, “When we play a full nine innings you’ll see the difference.”