Wild pitch sends ‘Cats to win in home opener 8-7

The ValleyCats won Tuesday's game.

The ValleyCats won Tuesday's game.

Fans returned to Joseph L. Bruno Stadium Tuesday and were treated to a back-and-forth slug fest featuring five home runs. But, it was an eighth-inning wild pitch by Lake Erie Crushers reliever Merrick Crouse that gave the Tri-City ValleyCats an 8-7 Frontier League win.

Center fielder Jesus Lujano had just subbed in defensively in the top of the eighth. He led off the bottom half with a single before a Crouse wild pitch advanced him to second. Although the next batter struck out, Pavin Parks, a late entry himself, hit a sacrifice fly to move Lujano to third, setting up the eventual game-winning play.

The long balls showed up early. Crushers right fielder Jack Harris’ solo shot to lead off the second inning earned the visitors the game’s first lead.

The ‘Cats hit two of their own in the bottom of the third off the bats of leadoff hitter Brantley Bell and right fielder Willy Garcia, who brought in two runners in with him to give his team a 4-1 advantage before the inning was done.

Lake Erie got one back to start the fourth after catcher Ermindo Escobar doubled in Harris. But, Bell gained it right back for the home side in the bottom half with an RBI single.

The Crushers made their move in the fifth and sixth innings scoring five runs during the two at-bats to take jump ahead 7-5. The offensive outburst was led by Harris’ second homer of the game — one of two balls to leave the yard during the two innings.

Bell got the rally going for the ValleyCats in the bottom of the seventh. This time with his feet versus his bat. After leading off with a single to center field against Crouse, who entered in the seventh, Bell stole second, advanced on a groundout, then became the first runner to score off a Crouse wild pitch. That same pitch moved first baseman Brad Zunica into scoring position, at second, after walking two batters before. Third baseman Juan Silverio eventually doubled, bringing in Zunica and tying the game at seven.

The two teams combined for 25 hits — 12 for extra bases, and the win was Tri-City’s second in a row — both high-scoring with late rallies to take the game by one.

The ValleyCats and Crushers meet again at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Categories: Sports


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