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Sacramento Walks Off for Third Time in 4-3 Win Over Salt Lake

Wilson Hits Third Homer, Fitzgerald Logs Three Extra Base Hits
Tyler Fitzgerald and Will Wilson celebrate at home plate after scoring the tying and winning runs during Sacramento's 4-3 win over Salt Lake on Sunday. (Ralph Thompson Photo)
May 14, 2023

WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. – A scoreless contest into the latter stages of the game, the Sacramento River Cats were able to capture a win in what became an exciting and eventful game down the stretch, overcoming a Salt Lake Bees run in the top of the ninth with a pair

WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. – A scoreless contest into the latter stages of the game, the Sacramento River Cats were able to capture a win in what became an exciting and eventful game down the stretch, overcoming a Salt Lake Bees run in the top of the ninth with a pair of their own in the home half to close the series finale with a 4-3 victory.

Bucking the trend from the first five games of the series, scoring was hard to come by in the early goings as there were just five combined hits through the first six innings. Two of those came in the first, with the Bees (16-23) putting a pair of runners aboard thanks to a broken-bat single by Jared Walsh before Jo Adell was awarded first base on a catcher’s interference.

However, River Cats’ (20-19) starter Sean Hjelle was able to avoid any damage by earning a flyout to left field before a fielder’s choice ended the frame. Sacramento raised the stakes during their swings with a one-out triple from Tyler Fitzgerald, his first in Triple-A and the first for Sacramento since Armando Alvarez hit on over a month ago on April 4, but he was left stranded 90 feet from home.

Following a second in which Salt Lake was retired in order and Sacramento collected a walk, the Bees managed another pair of runners courtesy an infield single from Michael Stefanic that deflected off the foot of Hjelle prior to Walsh being hit by a pitch, but again Hjelle escaped danger thanks to a pair of strikeouts, the only two of his outing. For Stefanic, the knock extended his active hitting streak to 14 games.

Sacramento matched the pair on base during their turn at the dish in the third, but a leadoff walk from Michael Gigliotti was erased shortly after when he was caught trying to swipe second. Two batters later Fitzgerald roped his second extra base hit of the game, this a double lined into the right center gap as he cruised into second, but again was left on base.

A Preston Palmeiro double and a walk to Zack Humphreys again had two Salt Lake runners aboard for a second consecutive inning, but Hjelle was able to close the book on his longest outing of the year as he finished the fourth with a ground ball to Proctor at third.

Action went quickly through the middle innings as the next 13 batters in the game were retired in order, with just one base runner between the two sides between the bottom of the fourth through the top of the seventh (two-out walk to Fitzgerald in the fifth). Doing the heavy lifting for Sacramento was the newly entered Drew Strotman, who took over for Hejelle to start the fifth and faced the minimum nine batters over his three innings of work while punching out four.

It took until the home half of the seventh for either side to reach the scoreboard, but it came in a big way as Will Wilson sent a 2-2 offering from the freshly entered Gerardo Reyes deep over the left field fence to put Sacramento on top 2-0. Reyes had entered with two outs in the inning for Cam Vieaux after Vieaux had yielded a hit to Clint Coulter, with Coulter stealing second just moments before Wilson’s third homer of the campaign.

However, Salt Lake quickly returned the favor with their own two-run shot in their next trip to the plate in the eighth. A walk to Walsh snapped a streak of 11 straight retired by the River Cats, but Adell went down on strikes and had Sacramento just one out from getting in the dugout. That’s when Cabbage launched a towering blast to right field, his 10th homer of the year, doing so against Chris Wright who had entered for Strotman to start the frame.

During the bottom of the eight the River Cats nearly recaptured the lead, loading the bases with a walk, hit by pitch and a beautiful bunt single from Patrick Bailey that left no chance to get him at first. Bouncing back from allowing the homer in the previous half inning, Reyes then got each of the next three River Cats’ hitters swinging to keep the score locked at 2-2.

Things seemed to get more dire for Sacramento in the top of the ninth, as Jared Oliva used an infield single and stolen base to make it into scoring position. Following a groundout that advanced to him to third, he scored the then go-ahead run on an RBI single from Stefanic to make the game 3-2.

Down but not out, Sacramento immediately went to work against Bees closer Jonathan Holder (0-4), who was looking for his second save of the series after also shutting the door during Salt Lake’s win on Thursday. Seventh-inning hero Wilson started a ninth inning rally for Sacramento with a single to right center, but couldn’t make it to scoring position until two batters later when Fitzgerald lined his second double of the game.

Salt Lake then issued an intentional free pass to Matt Beaty, opting instead to pitch to Patrick Bailey with the bases loaded and two outs. With just one strike reaming in an 0-2 count, Bailey slapped a ground ball directly towards the third base bag, with a foot race ensuing to the base between Jones and Fitzgerald.

As Fitzgerald won the race, Jones fumbled the ball before it skipped away towards the home dugout which allowed Fitzgerald to speed home for Sacramento’s third walk-off victory this season, their first since their consecutive walk-off wins against Las Vegas on May 4 and 5.

Today’s victory marked the fifth for Sacramento in their six-game series with Salt Lake, just the second time that they have accomplished the feat since the format of six-game home series began in 2021. The other came when the River Cats took five out of six from the Reno Aces right here at Sutter Health Park toward the end of last season from Aug. 23-28, 2022. It also moved the River Cats above the .500 line, matching their high-water mark from when they were 8-7 back on April 16 after the win over Reno.

Logging three of the eight hits for Sacramento was Fitzgerald, going a perfect 3-for-3 with all hits going for extra bases to make him the third River Cat to do so this year, the first since Brett Wisely (four doubles) and Michael Gigliotti (two doubles, home run) both accomplished the feat in the same game against Reno on April 16. This was also the sixth straight game scoring at least one run for Fitzgerald, which is one game shy of Alvarez for the team lead this season.

Also picking up a multi-hit game was Wilson, ending 2-for-4 with his homer and a pair of RBI. Earning credit for the win in a relief appearance was Melvin Adon (1-1), his first of the season as he allowed the one run in the ninth on two hits. Meanwhile, Holder was tabbed with his second blown save of the campaign.

Following an off day, Sacramento will be back in action on Tuesday, May 16 when the River Cats head out to Reno to take on the Aces with an afternoon matinee beginning at 11:05 a.m.