TROY — After the first four batters of the game, it was getting clear that the first game of the doubleheader on Thursday night was not going to be good for the ValleyCats.
It ended up getting much worse as they ended up falling to the Lowell Spinners, 14-3, in the seven-inning contest.
The Lowell offense went out in a flurry as Gilberto Jimenez led the game off with a single, only to be doubled in by number two hitter Cameron Cannon. Two batters later, Elih Marrero hit a double of his own to make it 2-0 quickly off of Tri-City starter Abdiel Saldana, who was making a rehab appearance.
Things ballooned in the next two innings as Lowell scored four runs in the second and three more in the third. After the dust settled at the end of the third, the ValleyCats found themselves trailing 9-1.
The run in the third came courtesy of Bryan Arias, who singled in Zach Biermann after Biermann had tripled to lead off the second inning. The ValleyCats scored another two runs in the fourth, from RBI’s from Wilyer Abreu and Juan Paulino.
The Spinners did not score again until the fifth inning, tallying three more times off of reliever Christian Mejias, who pitched 2 2/3 innings after Saldana had been removed after two innings on the mound.
Lowell scored twice before the second out had been recorded in the sixth to make the game 14-3 before ValleyCats manager Ozney Guillen elected to save the bullpen for the second game of the night after Shea Barry struggled to start the sixth. Guillen allowed Paulino to move from second base to the pitcher’s mound. He did well, throwing in the high 70s in the mile-per-hour range and tossed 1 2/3 perfect innings, inducing two infield pop-ups, two flyouts and a groundout on 13 pitches. Paulino said he had never pitched before.
“It was a cool experience, to try everything I can do,” Paulino said.
Paulino has now played five different positions this season: pitcher, catcher, first base, second base and left field. He has also served as the designated hitter.
“He needs to do that around here. We have three big-time catchers, we have a couple big-time outfielders, he scratches and claws for what he wants. The good thing about Juan is that ever since I’ve met him and been coaching him, he’s always locked in,” Guillen said of Paulino’s versatility.
Prior to Thursday’s second game, the ValleyCats now have a season record of 12-18 and Lowell improves to a league-best 21-9, having now won all four meetings between the two squads.
The ValleyCats’ margin of defeat by 11 runs is the largest of the season. Previously, it was a 9-0 loss to Staten Island on July 1.
After Thursday’s second game, the ValleyCats and Spinners will close out the three-game series on Friday night at 7 p.m. Jayson Schroeder will start for the ValleyCats, and Lowell’s starter has not been named yet.