Tuesday, Sept. 11—The Renegades dropped the first game of the League Championship Series to the Tri-City ValleyCats in Troy 5-4 in 10 innings, unable to preserve an early lead. The Gades return home to Dutchess Stadium Wednesday to face the Cats at 6:05 p.m. in Game 2 of the best-of-three series. If the Renegades win, they will play a decisive Game 3 Thursday and hope to clinch their first New York-Penn League championship since 1999; if the Cats win, they will claim their second championship in three seasons.
Unlike most games this season, the long ball was the deciding factor tonight. Luke Maile hit a two-run homer in the first inning as the Renegades took an early 3-0 lead. Dan Gulbransen replied with a two-run homer for the Cats in the second, and Catfish Elkins gave Tri-City a 4-3 lead with a two-run blast in the third. Leonardo Reginatto tied the game with a solo homer in the Renegades ninth. Preston Tucker triggered a jubilant celebration by the ValleyCats and their fans with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to right field in the 10th that sent Ryan Dineen home with the winning run. Please click here to read the game story on the Gades’ Web site.
My son, Dave, was able to join me for the trip to Troy, as were Bob Hand and Mark, another regular at The Dutch. After a later start than planned, Dave and I picked up the rest of the quartet at Bob’s home in the Town of Newburgh around 3:20. After some discussion we decided that the four of us and our gear would all fit in my car (saving gas for a second car), so we loaded Big Red into the cargo area along with munchies and my stuff from the back seat. Dave and I took the front seats, Bob and Mark squeezed into the back (I was surprised they fit, but they claimed they were OK) and we were soon on our way via back roads to U.S Route 9W, then across New York Route 299 to Thruway Interchange 18 (New Paltz). From there it was excellent cruising at highway speed to Exit 23, then up Interstate 787 to Exit 8 and across New York Route 378 to U.S. Route 4 a little north of Bruno Stadium. We arrived at our supper destination, Deli and Brew, a few minutes after 5, where we were surprised to find Paul, who had originally not expected to make the trip.
Deli and Brew makes some of the largest individual wedges I have ever seen, a delicious and excellent value. I chose liverwurst with lettuce, tomato and American cheese and was barely able to finish it. Some of the others saved part of theirs for a second meal.
We got to The Joe after 5:30 and tailgated in the parking lot. Bob went to the will-call window and picked up our tickets. We entered the stadium just in time to fill in our scorecards before the national anthem and a moment of silence for 9/11, with flags at half-staff. Today is the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that left nearly 3,000 people dead. May they rest in peace; may those responsible receive justice; may we all find a way to move beyond what led to this.
After the anthem, Dave got me a cup of coffee and headed for Section 160, right behind the Renegades dugout, while I went over to Section 170 to see Scott.
“You got nothin’!” I said in our mutual greeting after saying hello to usher Denis McCarthy. I mentioned that I had just stopped by to say hello but Gary and Betty encouraged me to stay—despite my Renegades jersey and jacket, which I wore into the stadium on this chilly evening—so I joined Scott for the top of the first (first pitch 6:32), assuring everybody that I would be rejoining the Renegades tribe afterward. “You may be leaving sooner than that!” Gary said good-naturedly after Luke Maile’s homer.
The Joe wasn’t crowded (official attendance 1,567), so we were able to spread out a bit in Row L of Section 160. Southpaw never made it to our section but Pappy Southpaw did, complete with his oversize glove, and he posed for a picture. Dave used my mitt to keep watch for stray balls while I kept score. One foul ball landed a short distance away but otherwise there was no excitement on that front.
As the game ended I turned to a particularly vocal ValleyCat fan a few rows behind us and commended him on his spirited support (partisan but positive, not demeaning), not unlike the quantity and volume I give the Renegades. He in turn commended us for coming up and supporting our team and wished us a safe trip home, all of which I thought was pretty classy. Thank you, sir.
Sammy Baseball was back at The Joe for a special playoff appearance, and we renewed acquaintances with him on the concourse after the game. Southpaw joined us and I took a picture of Dave with them.
The mood by the Renegades bus was subdued but still supportive, with “We’ll win tomorrow!” a recurrent theme. Bev was offering brownies to the players, and I added a bag of pretzels to the menu. While running low, she was reluctant to break out a second pan, claiming they had not baked up to her standards (something involving the number of eggs). Bob retrieved the pan from their car, ate one and pronounced it fine, as did Bob, Dave and I in quick succession.
Scott eventually joined us and I was able to introduce him to pitcher Dylan Floro, with whom he shares a California State-Fullerton connection. Charles Epperson told us his mom was feeling better and expected to be at the game Wednesday. Jared Sandberg thanked us all for making the trek and supporting the team.
We socialized for a short time after the bus left. I took up an order for the drive-up window at Wendy’s, then Dave and I went over to get the food (just coffee for me; I was still fairly full from my wedge).
I suggested that, in the interest of comfort, I run Scott home while the others remained, but, since Dave, Bob and Mark had to get up early, the consensus was that Bob, Mark and Scott could survive being crowded into the back seat for the short trip. Somehow they fit and we got Scott home without mishap. Dallas and Peanut, Scott’s beagles, howled a welcome from the back yard. After Scott calmed them down, we said some quick (for us) goodbyes, possibly for a while if Scott does not make it to Dutchess Stadium this week.
We were on our way at 12:22 a.m., retracing our route down I-787 and the Thruway to Interchange 17 (I-84 and Newburgh), with the others sleeping most of the way. We then went up Route 9W and local streets to Bob’s house. We quickly redistributed our gear, and Dave and I were on our way a few minutes later. We filled my car’s tank at a Valero station on 9W for $3.979 a gallon and arrived home safe and sound, thank God, around 2:45.