The waiting game finally paid off for the surging Tri-City ValleyCats.
Despite a punchless offense, the ValleyCats stayed close, thanks to some heads-up defense and gutsy pitching by starter Austin Chrismon. Then, they finally got the big hit they needed when first baseman Ricky Gingras belted his first home run of the season to spark a come-from-behind 4-3 victory over the Batavia Muckdogs in a New York-Penn League matinee Monday at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium.
Gingras’ blast to right field off Batavia relief pitcher Josh Hodges in the bottom of the eighth inning scored Terrell Joyce, who walked with one out. It was the first lead of the game for the ValleyCats, who completed a three-game sweep of the Muckdogs.
Jordan Mills (1-1) got the win, despite pitching just two-thirds of an inning, and Ryan Thompson picked up his seventh save by striking out the side in the ninth.
Tri-City (35-16) is off today, and many of the ValleyCats were scheduled to visit the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. They begin a six-game road swing Wednesday.
The ValleyCats’ offense had a tough time against Batavia pitching, scoring a run in the second inning with the help of a two-base error, and then picking up another run with an RBI single by Gingras in the sixth. Gingras was 3-for-4 with two runs scored and three RBI in the game.
But his biggest hit was in the eighth, when he took the first pitch he saw over the right-field fence.
“I was looking for a pitch to drive,” Gingras said. “He [Hodges] threw me one down and in, and I turned on it.”
Batavia scored two early runs against Chrismon, but he settled down and allowed six hits over seven innings to keep his team in the game.
With one out in the first inning, Javier Lopez hit a soft fly ball the other way to right field and raced all the way to third for an opportunistic triple. He scored on a sharp single to right by Carlos Duran.
Chrismon got a little bad luck when the next hitter, Kevin Grove, ripped a shot to center field, which Jose Solano tracked down and appeared ready to camp under. But the ball sailed over Solano’s head for a double. Although Duran stopped at third, the Muckdogs eventually scored on a fielder’s choice by Aaron Blanton.
“After I gave up the first two runs, I just kept the ball down in the zone,” said Chrismon, whose seven innings were a season high.
“I knew our offense would come around eventually. Our defense played great today. They were everything. When you have a defense like that behind you, it makes it a lot easier.”
The ValleyCats not only turned two clutch double plays, but catcher Alfredo Gonzalez threw out a pair of runners, one attempting to steal and another on a pickoff.
“Alfredo had a great game behind the plate today,” said Tri-City manager Ed Romero. “He threw a couple of guys out. And we’re turning some double plays. Our guys are really concentrating on what they’re supposed to do defensively.
“This was a very important win for us today,” Romero added. “The guys are playing hard. They came through in the clutch, especially that Gingras home run.”
The ValleyCats announced that ace pitcher Troy Scribner was called up to Quad Cities Monday. Scribner, a 6-foot-3, 23-year-old right-hander from Washington Depot, Conn., was 7-1 with a 1.38 earned run average. He had 60 strikeouts in 52 innings.