ValleyCats ring in Fourth of July with doubleheader sweep

Sports

TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Before a sellout crowd of 5,134 at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium was treated to an annual Fourth of July fireworks display, they were given plenty of excitement on the field by the Tri-City ValleyCats (14-18). The ‘Cats completed a doubleheader sweep over Atlantic Division rival Equipe Quebec (16-19) to the tune of 5-1 and 3-1 victories Sunday afternoon, giving them a series sweep for the first time this season.

Before taking the field for their scheduled Sunday afternoon contest, the ValleyCats had to pick up Saturday evening’s rained-out contest in the top of the second, leading, 2-0, following a 440-foot home run to deep right center from Brad Zunica in the bottom of the first before inclement weather suspended play. Quebec got a run back in the top of the third off an RBI double, sending the contest into a one-run chess match through the middle innings.

After gaining the lead with a long ball in the bottom of the first, Tri-City extended it with another in the bottom of the seventh, as Juan Silverio took a ball 403 feet to left-center for his second homer in as many games. Oscar Campos gave the game its final score with an RBI single in the bottom of the eighth, with Silverio recording a multi-hit and multi-RBI night to lead the team offensively. Right-hander Austin Cline (1-0) picked up his first professional victory in four relief innings, allowing just one run on four hits and striking out a career-high seven batters. Trey Cochran-Gill was called upon in the ninth and got the help of a game-ending double play behind him to pick up his eighth save of the year.

Just half an hour after clinching their fourth consecutive series victory, the ValleyCats had to come from behind to earn a sweep in what proved to be a seven-inning bullpen pitcher’s duel. After an RBI single from former major leaguer Gift Ngoepe got Quebec on the board in the top of the first, starters Turner Larkins for Tri-City and Stephen Knapp for the visitors each took early no-decisions, and the game headed to the bottom of the sixth decided by only one run.

Following a perfect two-thirds-of-an-inning from right-hander Troy Cruz (1-0), the ‘Cats began the bottom of the sixth with back-to-back singles from Nelson Molina and Juan Silverio off losing pitcher Nick Horvath (1-2). Building off a double in the first inning, Denis Phipps used the tenth pitch of the next at-bat to lace a ball into left field to allow both runners to score and give the ‘Cats the lead. The final run would score in the form of Chris Kwitzer, who pinch ran for Phipps and came in on a wild pitch. Cochran-Gill was then called upon for the second time in just over three hours and ended the game in four batters for his ninth save.

After beginning the 2021 season 4-16, the Tri-City ValleyCats have now won their last five, seven of their last eight, and 10 of their last 12 games. Following a league-wide day off on Monday’ the ‘Cats will return to The Joe to begin a four-game mid-week series with the New York Boulders on Tuesday, July 6 at 6:30 PM.

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