A lot of firsts added up to a big win for the Tri-City ValleyCats on Tuesday night at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium.
Jamie Ritchie and Jason Martin hit their first professional home runs, and Alex Hernandez delivered a game-winning pinch-hit single in the 10th inning as the ’Cats edged Hudson Valley, 3-2, in a matchup of New York-Penn League division leaders. It was also the third straight Tri-City win as the teams complete a home-and-home three-game series.
“I hadn’t seen a pitch in about three hours,” said Hernandez, who was summoned from the first-base coaching box to hit. “That’s the old backyard baseball, last at-bat, two-out, bases-loaded, winning run at third base. I got a slider up over the plate and connected for a little base hit over second.”
Hernandez’s winning hit on a 1-1 delivery from Justin McCalvin pulled the Stedler Division-leading ’Cats into a tie with the Renegades, who lead the McNamara Division, for the most wins (39) in the league.
Ritchie tied the game, 2-2, with a two-out homer in the ninth.
“It was great, especialy in that situation,” said the catcher of his first professional homer. “I came close before.”
Ritchie’s homer was only the fourth hit of the game to that point for the ValleyCats, who hadn’t scored since the 18-year-old Martin hit his first homer in the first inning.
Hudson Valley starter Chris Pike gave up just two hits in his six innings.
The win went to Tri-City’s fourth pitcher, Derick Velazquez, who got the only batter her faced to hit into an inning-ending double play in the top of the 10th.
Luis Ordosgoitti turned in a strong five-plus innings in relief of starter Jay Gause.
“Ordo gave us a chance to win,” said ValleyCats manager Ed Romero. “He gave us a chance to battle back and score runs. And we had some good at-bats in that last inning.”
“He threw a lot of changeups, kept them off balance,” said Ritchie. “Some of them are pretty pull-happy, so we tried to go away, away with them.”
After Martin gave the ValleyCats their quick lead, Hudson Valley responded in the third to take the lead.
The Renegades got three consecutive hits off Tri-City starter Jay Gause, with shortstop Alec Sole, Hudson Valley’s No. 9 hitter, getting the two runs home with a double to left-center.
The ValleyCats had a chance to tie in the sixth after second baseman Juan Santana lined a double to left to lead off. Alex Presley — in the first game of an injury rehab assignment from Houston — got him to third with a ground ball, but Santana was cut down at home when he went on contact when Martin hit to shortstop Alec Sole.