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Five-Run Innings Provide Offense for Cats in Win Over Rainiers

Top Third of Lineup Combines for Nine Hits, Nine RBI
Shane Matheny follows through on a swing during Sacramento's contest against Oklahoma City on May 28. (Ralph Thompson Photo)
June 3, 2023

WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Two innings contained all the damage for the Sacramento River Cats on Friday, producing a pair of five-run innings that included a towering home run by David Villar, who drove in five RBI on the night, as Sacramento went on to top the Tacoma Rainiers by

WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Two innings contained all the damage for the Sacramento River Cats on Friday, producing a pair of five-run innings that included a towering home run by David Villar, who drove in five RBI on the night, as Sacramento went on to top the Tacoma Rainiers by a final of 10-6.

After a single hit in the first frame, the River Cats (26-29) got the bats going in the second when they brought all nine batters to the plate against Rainiers’ (26-29) starter Juan Then (0-1). First it was a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded from Ford Proctor that broke the scoreless tie, but an infield single on a chopper to third by Luis Matos kept the bags full with two outs.

Delivering in the clutch was Tyler Fitzgerald and Villar, as the duo produced consecutive two-out, two-RBI knocks. Starting with Fitzgerald, he drove a ball into the right-center gap that scored two while keeping Matos at third. Up next was Villar, who just nearly missed a homer when he crushed a ball that one-hopped the wall in left center to make the score 5-0.

Working hard to get out of a jam with three straight outs after the first two batters he faced reached base, Sacramento lefty Kyle Harrison couldn’t escape a solo homer from Pedro Severino to leadoff the second inning, moving the score to 5-1.

That would be the only run allowed by Harrison, who punched out two batters following that big fly before returning to the mound the next two innings. He faced the minimum in the third after a walk was erased on a caught stealing by Joey Bart, who started his Major League rehab assignment, and tallied one final strikeout in the fourth despite leaving with the bases loaded and two outs.

Taking over was Nick Avila (7-0), who did his job with a swinging strikeout that ended the frame and stranded the bases loaded. Continuing in the bottom of the fifth, Avila punched out another Rainier to start the inning but was also tagged for a solo blast, this from Cooper Hummel that went over the right-center wall to make the score 5-2.

Insurance came during the top of the sixth, as the River Cats poured on another five runs thanks to four hits along with an error and a pair of walks. First it was the free passes, as Colton Welker drew one to start the inning before Proctor joined him with one out.

There has been no hotter bat than that of Matos over the previous two weeks, and he kept it going by smashing a ball to left center that was mere feet away from his second homer in as many games. Instead, he settled for a two-RBI double that scored both runners with Proctor just beating the tag, which marked Matos’ second consecutive four-RBI contest. He is the first River Cat to accomplish the feat this season, and he matches Isan Diaz who was the only Sacramento player to do so last year on Aug. 9 and 11, 2022.

Ready to one-up the on-fire Matos was Villar, who would not be denied his home run as he blasted a three-run shot to left center that put the River Cats well in front once again. Along with Matos, crossing the plate on the play was Fitzgerald who had singled through the right side to put runners at the corners.

Taking over for Avila was right-hander Phoenix Sanders, who induced a pop up against his first batter but then walked the bases loaded. A strikeout had the River Cats one out from escaping danger, but the newly entered Cole Waites yielded a triple to Cade Marlowe that scored all three inherited runners and returned to 10-5.

Action went quickly over the final innings as there were minimal base runners, though among those included another four-hit game for Sacramento. Just a night after Matos and Jacob Nottingham each accomplished the feat, Fitzgerald joined the party with his first four-knock contest in Triple-A after his last at-bat also ended with a single through the right side.

Also included in the final innings was a solo homer in the eighth for Mason McCoy, who brought the game to its ending score of 10-6 after leaving the yard against Clay Helvey.

Though he did not go long enough to earn the win, Harrison still punched out five hitters in his ninth consecutive start, which is the longest such streak in all Triple-A. Earning credit for the win was Avila, keeping his record unblemished as he took sole possession of the Triple-A lead for wins with his seventh of the campaign.

Responsible for driving in half of the Sacramento runs was Villar, just the second time this season a River Cat has driven in five RBI in a game (also: Matheny, 5/9), as he ended 3-for-5 and was a triple shy of the cycle. Though he could not reach three hits for a fourth straight game, Matos still closed 2-for-5 with a double for his ninth multi-hit contest in just his 15 games with Sacramento. He, along with Fitzgerald who was 4-for-5, each scored twice while driving two others in.

Having secured at minimum a series split with Tacoma, the River Cats will go for the series victory on Saturday at 6:05 p.m. from Cheney Stadium.