TROY — Another game, another walk-off.
That’s become the theme for Tri-City ValleyCats home game so far this year as they did it again on Saturday night, their third walk-off win in three home games. This time around it was CJ Stubbs hitting a walk-off double to propel the team to a 6-5, 11-inning win over the Vermont Lake Monsters.
The ValleyCats found themselves trailing 4-0 in the early going, mainly due in part to a three-run home run from Vermont’s Jordan Diaz in the third inning, but they did not lower their heads and walk away. They scratched and clawed their way back into the contest, taking advantage of many fielding errors by the Lake Monsters. The ValleyCats scored one run in each the third, fourth and fifth innings and two in the sixth to take a 5-4 lead. In that time, Preston Pavlica, Juan Pineda and E.P. Reese all picked up RBIs despite a total of six errors by Vermont in the field.
“Our team for some reason, in the second half I feel like we’re warriors. The first half of the game is always very sloppy and that’s something we have to work on, maybe takes a little bit of preparation beforehand to do something about it,” ValleyCats manager Ozney Guillen said.
In the top of the seventh inning Vermont tied the game at five on an RBI single from Kevin Richards.
The game stayed at that score until the 11th inning, despite both sides threatening, even with the rule that places a runner at second base to start extra innings.
In the bottom of the 11th, Matt Barefoot started the inning at second base, Zach Biermann was intentionally walked to start the frame. On a 1-0 pitch off of Nick Ward, who had started the game at second base, Stubbs lined the ball into the corner in left field to score pinch runner Deury Carrasco and end the game.
“Just being the right guy in the right spot. I’ve kind of been preparing for moments like that my entire life, just always put myself in pressure situations and put a good swing on the ball,” Stubbs said.
Guillen said of seeing a position player pitching, “It ties your hands up as a development guy to pitch these guys. I’m sure their manager didn’t want to do that, it’s either that or hurt somebody who’s a starter, so he had to make the choice and we came out on the other side of it.”
A big help into getting the game to that point was the pitching of Jervic Chavez. He entered the game in the seventh inning and was dominant for the rest of the night, only allowing one hit in 4 1/3 innings of relief, striking out three.
“He’s been in situations like this so I was confident. He’s smart enough, and I think Korey Lee called a great game behind the plate too. Give props to Korey, he blocked I think five balls in the dirt with men on third base, that’s tough, especially for a guy with so much pressure on him, not known as a defensive guy, so props to both of them,” Guillen said.
The ValleyCats improve to 4-4 on the young season. These two teams will close out this series on Sunday at 5 p.m. at Joe Bruno Stadium. Peyton Battenfield for Tri-City and Yorlenis Noa for Vermont are the probable starting pitchers.