Spikes avoid sweep, take down ‘Cats in extras

TROY — The Tri-City ValleyCats wrapped up a six game home stand on Friday night while looking to complete a series sweep over the State College Spikes for a fifth consecutive victory.

The teams traded zeros until the home half of the third. After a one out walk worked by Preston Pavlica, AJ Lee singled to left and advanced to second on the throw to the infield, setting up E.P. Reese with runners on second and third. Reese would capitalize depositing an 0-1 pitch between second and first to bring around both runners to give the ‘Cats a 2-0 lead.

Starting pitcher Kyle Serrano was taken out of the game after a scoreless first inning. His reliever, Blair Henley, was efficient in his four innings of work as he surrendered just two hits allowing no runs while ringing up four batters. Manager Ozney Guillen had high praise for his reliever following the game.

“I don’t think Blair should be here (Tri-City) very long, he’s very good,” Guillen said.

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With Jayson Schroeder on the mound and two on and two gone in the sixth, the Spikes took their first lead of the game by way of a three-run home run down the right field line off the bat of catcher Carlos Soto.

The ‘Cats threatened in the bottom half of the sixth with runners on first and second and one away. However, C.J. Stubbs grounded into a 4-6-3 double play and the Spikes escaped the jam maintaining their 3-2 lead.

State College would add one more run in the ninth when three straight two out singles helped bring home a run on a wild pitch by Shea Barry.

However, the ‘Cats refused to roll over in the ninth.

With Korey Lee on third and Nate Perry on first with no outs, Perry attempted a steal of second and slid in safely on a throw that short-hopped and got away from the second baseman covering which allowed Lee to score from third and make it a 4-3 game.

Later in the inning with the bases loaded and one away, Luis Santana was drilled by a pitch, forcing home the tying run.

Two batters later, AJ Lee popped out to first with two out and the bases loaded to give the 3,902 fans at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium some free baseball.

With runners on the corners in the 10th, Matt Duce put the Spikes back on top with a double down the right field line sending home Soto from third. The Spikes added another on an RBI single by Brylie Ware and the ‘Cats entered the bottom of the 10th trailing 6-4.

This time around there would be no comeback. The ‘Cats were retired in order in the extra frame as the Spikes avoided the sweep with a 6-4 win.

Despite the loss, Guillen took note of the fight his team displayed while trailing for most of the game, including the ninth inning comeback.

“They’re a different group,” Guillen said. “I keep saying as long as they focus I think they’ll be successful. Things are starting to turn and I think people are starting to realize it. We have a lot of talent, now they’re starting to show confidence and they’re here to play and I think teams are going to see a little difference out of Tri-City.”

The ValleyCats will travel to Connecticut to take on the Tigers for a three game series from Saturday-Monday before returning home on July 17 for a three game series against the Lowell Spinners.

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