Wednesday, Sept. 12—Led by a three-run homer by Richie Shaffer, the Renegades came from behind yet again and defeated the Tri-City ValleyCats 5-2 to force a deciding Game 3 Thursday for the championship of the New York-Penn League. The Cats defeated the Gades 5-4 in Troy Tuesday in the opener of the best-of-three series.
Tri-City took an early lead, with a run in the first and another in the fifth, while Aaron West pitched five perfect innings against the Gades. The tide turned in the sixth when a throwing error gave the Renegades their first base runner and led to a two-run single by Tommy Coyle to tie the game. Hudson Valley posted the winning margin in the eighth when Shaffer, with one out and two teammates on base, hit a first-pitch fastball 395 feet over the left-field wall. Relief pitcher Ryan Garton set the Cats down in order in the ninth to secure the victory as the fans, many already on their feet, went wild. Please click here to read the game story on the Gades’ Web site.
Dave was able to join me for our second father-son night in a row, taking an empty Interstate Battery seat. The Fleischmanns and the Drummonds were on hand, so we had a great baseball contingent in the front row. Big Steve, a few rows back, was in better voice than I have heard him all year. Tri-City had organized a fan bus from Troy, and that contingent offered loud, sustained cheering for the Cats. Renegades fans responded with sustained spontaneous cheering of their own, as they did Monday night in response to the enthusiastic visitors from Brooklyn. The loud support was great; I just wish we had generated more of it on our own throughout the season without waiting to be stimulated by the fans of the visiting team.
A fine six-minute display of colorful fireworks with numerous loud boomers followed the game, leaving a thick layer of smoke over the field in the increasingly cool, humid air, and I was glad I had brought my Renegades jacket in with me. As Dave and I headed for the exit we caught up with Zolz, who was surprised and pleased to see Dave, who had not made it to The Dutch all season.
As expected, the mood in the parking lot was jubilant as we celebrated the victory and the opportunity to play one more game. Geoff Rowan’s Uncle Darrell and friend Cedric had come over from Highland Falls, and Charles Epperson was at the center of a half dozen friends. Even allowing for my late arrival after the fireworks it seemed like both teams left a bit earlier than usual, although I can understand that they might want to get as much rest as possible before the big game tomorrow.
The umpires, led by home plate’s Jorge Teran, were happy to explain the rules covering an unusual situation in which three Renegades converged on a foul popup that dropped to the ground near the first-base line while the batter ran into one of the fielders in the basepath. Bob, a few other folks and I had thought there might be a call of interference, but the umps explained that the rules let them protect only one fielder (the one with the best opportunity to make a play), not everybody in the area. Another fielder had a better chance to make the catch than the fielder in the basepath, so there was no interference.
As usual, the gathering dwindled to the usual suspects, including Bob, Paul, Hal, Grant and me. We waved and cheered as the coaches and various stadium staffers departed and exchanged congratulations and best wishes with Manager Jared Sandberg when he finally left. There was no sign of foxes or skunks, and we speculated again that increased illumination from the repaired parking lot lights might have something to do with that. The last of us headed out a little before midnight.