The weather was dreary and the game almost didn’t happen between the Staten Island Yankees and the Tri-City ValleyCats. Most fans didn’t show up, and the last game at the Joe led to a disappointing finish.
The Staten Island Yankees beat the ValleyCats 10-5 to advance to the New York-Penn League Championship. The Cats started the series on the road in Staten Island, where they dropped the first game of a three-game series 3-2 in 11 innings. On Thursday’s game they faced a great pitcher in Domingo Acevedo, who has only given up eight runs the whole season. The Cats knew they were facing a tough opponent and failed to rise to the challenge.
“I don’t think he [Acevedo] was as sharp as in Staten Island,” said manager Ed Romero after Thursday’s loss. “It’s tough when you get down four to nothing and then after two-and-a-half innings being down seven-nothing. He had to feel pretty comfortable with that lead with the type of pitcher he is.”
The Cats were never in the game, giving up four runs in the first inning, and they didn’t cross home until the sixth. At that point they were down 8-0, and the game was just about decided.
One bright spot in on a dark night was Hector Roa. He didn’t start the game, but was brought in late to pinch-hit and try to give the ValleyCats offense a shot in the arm. He did his part: he went 2 for 2 from the plate with a 2-run HR.
“It’s real tough because this team, we battled and battled, but that’s baseball,” said Roa after the game.
The ValleyCats end a great season on a bad note, but this team and these players have a lot to carry with them after this summer.
“It was a great experience. These guys, they blended well. They matured well. They learned a lot. And I think they got better,” said Ed Romero, reflecting on the season. “I’m very happy with the entire situation. You’re not always happy after losing two games in a row in the playoffs, but these guys did a great job the entire season.”
Most of the roster this year were first-year players, but by the end of the season they looked as if they’d been together for more than just a year. The Cats sent four All-Stars to the New York-Penn League All-Star game, including third baseman Bobby Warnes, first baseman Dexture McCall, outfielder Pat Porter, and pitcher Alex Winkelman. McCall earned MVP honors when his 2-RBI double was the deciding factor in the game.
“It was outstanding. It was an amazing brotherhood. I created a lot of friendships with a lot of these guys that will last a lifetime, and that’s what it’s about,” said McCall, reflecting on his season with the ValleyCats. “I know we came out here and lost, but we developed. We developed so much, and a lot of guys got sent up. That’s what matters.”
The Cats fell short in their quest to capture another Penn League title, but the Astros organization got a little stronger as a whole with this new group of guys that have the potential to reach the majors one day. Summer came and went in a flash, but the 2015 ValleyCats continued the winning tradition and left their mark at Joe Bruno Stadium.