Wednesday, July 25—The Renegades, proving again to be a team that doesn’t give up, pulled out their second gut-wrenching come-from-behind walkoff victory this week as they battled back from a 9-3 deficit to defeat the Tri-City ValleyCats 10-9 in 12 innings, their first overtime game at Dutchess Stadium this season. The contest between the teams with the two best records in the New York-Penn League lasted three hours and 48 minutes and followed the Renegades’ dramatic 9-8 Monday comeback against the Staten Island Yankees after being down 8-0. In between, the Gades edged the Yankees 4-3 Tuesday on Staten Island.
Hudson Valley, leader of the McNamara Division, took an early 3-1 lead over the visitors from Troy, who stand atop the Stedler Division with the best record in the league. But the Cats pushed across three runs in the fifth and three more in the sixth for a 9-3 lead.
Once again the Renegades began taking command in the seventh with two runs, followed by four in the eighth to tie the game. Extra innings—which Zolz describes as “free baseball”—passed quickly with sharp relief pitching by both teams.
Then, in the 12th, just as I was preparing to set up a supplemental scoresheet, Leonardo Reginatto singled, went to second on a wild pitch and, with two outs, slid home safely with the winning run on a single to left by Marty Gantt. The remaining Hudson Valley faithful went wild in the stands as the Renegades did likewise on the field, and Bob, in his role as the Pie Man, rewarded Marty with a whipped-cream pie in the face. Please click here to read the game story on the Gades’ Web site.
The heroics provided a fitting exclamation point to Heroes Night at The Dutch, as the Renegades paid tribute throughout the game to hometown heroes—police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and members of the military. Rascal was brought to home plate by a motorcycle escort from the Fraternal Order of Police before the game, a Veterans of Foreign Wars color guard fired a 21-gun salute, a police officer played The Star-Spangled Banner and God Bless America on his trumpet, and the playing of taps during a moment of silence at the start of the third inning brought tears to at least a few eyes. A video on the scoreboard showed President Obama’s tribute to Poughkeepsie City Police Detective John Falcone, who was fatally shot in February 2011 while rescuing a child from a gunman.
Former Detroit Tigers pitcher Denny McLain—whose 31-6 record in 1968 marked the most recent time a major-league pitcher has won 30 or more games in a season—was at the stadium tonight, greeting fans, signing autographs for free and selling memorabilia that included his 2007 book I Told You I Wasn’t Perfect, an unvarnished account of his triumphs and tragedies, including prison terms for racketeering, drugs and theft from a pension fund. I bought a book for $15, which he inscribed to me, and it seems to be a good read based on the few pages I have read so far.
I chuckled as fans mentioned to Denny that “I was 9 years old” in 1968 or “I wasn’t even born then.” I was 21 at the time and remember well an incident involving the pitcher while his accomplishment was still a work in progress. I was a reporter for the old Tarrytown Daily News (a forerunner of today’s Journal News) and had gone one night to the photo bureau of Gannett Westchester Rockland Newspapers, which was in the old Herald Statesman building in Yonkers. On a shelf behind the photo editor’s desk sat a good-size sketch of McLain in a pitching pose by staff artist Frank Becerra, with a note that it was to be used when Denny notched his 30th victory; the sketch was ready to go and appeared in the papers when he came through a few days later. Like the Boy Scouts, we were prepared.
The Patterson-based National Fire Sprinkler Association was also involved in tonight’s activities, and its mascot, Sprinkler Man, threw out a first pitch along with Denny.
The Interstate Battery seats were empty tonight, so Big Steve ambled down from his regular spot a few rows back to join me for several innings. Steve, who tends to be critical of umpires, was surprisingly complimentary tonight, especially toward home plate umpire Clayton Hamm, to whom he shouted that he was doing a good job.
To my left, I shared some good baseball conversation with the Fleischmans and their friends Colleen (wife of John) and Mike.
As the ValleyCats headed for the clubhouse after the game, catcher Mike Cokinos, who did not play tonight but whom I saw play in Troy July 5, waved at me as I sat, alone, double checking my totals. “You guys played a great game tonight,” I said, to which he replied, “Thank you.” And, I added, “I’m sure the next two games will be just as great,” referring to the remainder of the series Thursday and Friday.
I always feel somewhat conflicted when Hudson Valley and Tri-City play each other because, while the Gades are undeniably my first team, the Cats, whom I have followed for nearly a decade and whom I see several times a year at Bruno Stadium in Troy, are my second team. When they face any team but the Renegades I cheer and yell as loudly for the Cats as I do for the Gades. One good thing when they play each other—one of my two favorite teams will win. As always, I applaud a good hit, a good play, no matter who makes it.
I met up with Jim, the Angry Met Fan (a friendly, pleasant man in spite of his nickname), on the third-base concourse and invited him and young Randy to join the celebration, which they did. I also learned the origin of his nickname. Years ago, Zolz would announce updates on New York Yankees games from time to time. Jim, a diehard New York Mets fan, asked one night why their updates were not announced as well. Zolz replied (in jest, I hope) that he only announced updates that mattered and dubbed Jim the Angry Met Fan. Jim apparently had the final laugh; Mets updates soon began to be announced along with those of the Yankees.
Jubilation and celebration continued in the parking lot. Bob Hand was discussing the finer points of “pie-ing” with Bev and Bob, starting pitcher Reinaldo Lopez and a few other folks while we waited for Marty Gantt to emerge from the clubhouse. When he did, Bev photographed him with Bob, Paul and me for a Facebook post.
We invited umpires Clayton Hamm and Blake Carnahan to join us for some nourishment, but they politely declined. We assured them the invitation was still good for the rest of their visit.
There were no leftovers tonight, so we made do with pretzels and tortilla chips from my car. Bob and I, bringing up the rear as usual, finally headed home about 12:45 a.m.
Next home game: Thursday, July 26 vs. Tri-City ValleyCats, first pitch 7:05 p.m.