The Tri-City ValleyCats returned to Joseph L. Bruno Stadium from a three-day stay in Aberdeen, Md., Wednesday night with a different look.
A.J. Reed had joined J.D. Davis among the ranks of the promoted, leaving manager Ed Romero to make do without the top two power sources the ValleyCats had employed for the first two months of the season.
One night after dropping a 1-0 decision to Mahoning Valley Scrappers, the ValleyCats fought back from two runs down Thursday to force extra innings, only to see the Scrappers take a 7-6 win in 11 innings, the winning run scoring on a passed ball.
Singles by Austin Fisher and Greg Allen put runners on the corners before a Jordan Mills pitch got through catcher Jake Rodriguez, allowing Fisher to score.
Rodriguez was playing in his second game with the team. Houston’s 19th-round draft pick out of Oregon State in 2013, Rodriguez hit .209 in 86 at-bats here last year. He had played at Lancaster (California League) and Quad Cities (Midwest League) prior to being assigned to Tri-City earlier this week.
Mott Hyde’s first professional home run, leading off the 10th inning, had pulled the ValleyCats into a 6-6 tie.
Hyde’s line drive over the left-field fence rescued the ValleyCats from a 6-5 loss after the Scrappers had taken the lead in the top of the inning against Mills, Tri-City’s fourth pitcher. Third baseman Leo Castillo, who had earlier hit a two-run triple, knocked in Francisco Mejia to give the visitors the lead.
Tri-City, which had scored two runs in the first inning, fell behind, 5-3, before scoring twice in the eighth to tie the game.
Hyde walked with one out, and moved to third on Ariel Ovando’s single. Juan Santana doubled in Hyde, and Rodriguez got Ovando in with a ground ball.
Tri-City had a chance to win it in the ninth after Alex Hernandez walked and took second on Terrell Joyce’s bunt. Joyce had replaced left fielder Derek Fisher, who had banged into the fence chasing Castillo’s two-run triple in the sixth. But Hernandez was stranded at third when Jamie Ritchie struck out.
The ValleyCats didn’t look like they would hurt for offense in the first, taking a 2-0 lead.
After Bobby Boyd popped out, Hernandez, Fisher and Ricky Gingras strung together singles for a 1-0 lead. Hyde, hitting in the No. 6 hole, brought Fisher home with a double inside the third-base bag.
That was all the ValleyCats would get against Scrappers’ starter Julian Merryweather, who gave up only two more hits before leaving after four innings.
The ValleyCats got starting pitcher Joe Musgrove an additional run to work with in the fifth when Boyd greeted Mahoning Valley reliever David Speer with a single, and after being moved to second on a Hernandez bunt, the Tri-City center fielder scored when Fisher ripped a one-hopper into right field.
The Scrappers tied it in the sixth, when, with two on, third baseman Castillo hit a shot down the left-field line. Fisher crashed into the wall, and the ball rolled under the gate to the ValleyCats bullpen. Ordomar Valdez and Bradley Zimmer, who had both hit one-out singles, both scored.
Castillo circled the bases as Fisher alerted umpire Mac Dietz that the ball was out of play. Dietz and home plate umpire Thomas Roche conferred, then put Castillo back at third, but the game was tied, 3-3.
That was all for Musgrove, who left in favor of left-hander Bryan Radziewski, who struck out Taylor Murphy to end the inning.
Radziewski was not as fortunate in the seventh, as No. 9 hitter Austin Fisher and Greg Allen hit conscutive RBI singles to put Mahoning Valley up, 5-3.