WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Seeking to capture a series win in game five of a six-game set, the Sacramento River Cats were on their way to accomplishing that goal as they held a 4-1 lead after their swings in the fifth, but a grand slam for the Tacoma Rainiers seized
WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Seeking to capture a series win in game five of a six-game set, the Sacramento River Cats were on their way to accomplishing that goal as they held a 4-1 lead after their swings in the fifth, but a grand slam for the Tacoma Rainiers seized the game’s momentum and helped steal Saturday’s showdown by an 11-7 final.
Three batters into the contest and the River Cats (26-30) had already snatched their first lead over the Rainiers (27-29), scoring first in each game of the series thus far, and did so by using a similar formula as they did earlier in the series. At the center was Tyler Fitzgerald, who walked to become Sacramento’s first base runner and then promptly stole second for his 11th steal of the season. He did not wait on base long, as last night’s RBI machine David Villar continued his magic by driving him in with a single to left for the early advantage.
Tacoma got the run back in the bottom of the frame against Sacramento starter Tristan Beck, as he let his first two hitters reach base on a hit by pitch and a walk. Only one of those two runs scored, doing so on a sacrifice fly from Brian O’Keefe that leveled the score.
Both sides went quickly in the second and third, but the River Cats got back to work in the fourth with a pair of runs. Shane Matheny drew a walk just in front of a double down the left-field line from Ricardo Genoves, and both eventually scored as Ford Proctor singled through the right side with the infield drawn in while Will Wilson collected an RBI on a fielder’s choice.
Before the Rainiers could strike back Sacramento tacked on another run, coming from the same duo responsible for the first run in Fitzgerald and Villar. It was yet another free pass for the former, but this time he had no need to swipe second as the latter roped a double into the right center that scored him all the way from first and pushed the score to 4-1.
An error that allowed a leadoff walk to score in the bottom of the fifth helped Tacoma get that last run back, but it was the bottom of the sixth where the Rainiers seized control of the game. With two runners on base thanks to a leadoff walk followed by a single, Mason McCoy drove an RBI single through the right side that made it just a one-run game, 4-3.
A flyout had the River Cats just one out away from getting out of the inning with the lead intact, but into the box stepped Jake Scheiner who connected on a grand slam that easily cleared the wall in left field off reliever Melvin Adon (1-3). It was the first grand slam allowed by Sacramento pitching this season, which put the Rainiers out in front 7-3.
Trying to break the game open, Tacoma added another four runs during their at-bats in the seventh which was all started with a triple to deep center field by Adam Engel. He scored two batters later on a single from McCoy, which was the first of three consecutive run-scoring hits that increased the Tacoma advantage to 11-3.
Down but not out, Sacramento attempted to build their own comeback by pushing home three runs in the top of the eighth. With runners at the corners, Wilson got a ball up in the air for a sacrifice fly and his second RBI of the night, scoring Matheny who walked at the start of the inning.
Up next was Michael Gigliotti, who turned on the jets and raced all the way to third on a ball he sent to right field, easily bringing home the second run of the inning. Last it was Luis Matos, whose RBI single through the middle marked the last run of the game for the 11-7 final.
That final knock was the third of the night for Matos, who has now logged a multi-hit performance in each of the five games against Tacoma and is batting .577 (15-for-26), doubling twice and homering once while driving in seven runs. Beyond this series Matos has now hit safely in each of his last seven outings (17-for-34, .500), and for the campaign he has tallied 10 multi-hit efforts in just 16 contests, with six games of three hits or more (one four-hit).
Though he did not have a knock, Fitzgerald scored twice thanks to his pair of walks, and he has now scored at least one run in each of his last four games. Closing the night with a pair of hits each were Villar and Proctor, each going 2-for-4 with Villar driving in two while Proctor scored once and drove in one.
Taking the win was Rainiers starter Marcus Walden (1-0), his first of the season, while Adon took the loss after surrendering the grand slam.
Tomorrow’s series finale will decide whether this six-game set ends in a split or a series win for Sacramento, with the first pitch tossed at 1:35 p.m. from Cheney Stadium.