On Sunday afternoon at the Richmond County Ballpark in St. George, the Staten Island Yankees (31-31) used a four-run first inning to get a much-needed 6-3 win over the Tri-City Valleycats (42-21). For Staten Island, it was also their first win in six meetings against Tri-City this year. This game was big for the team due to the fact they went 4-2 on a homestand vs. Connecticut and Tri-City after going 1-5 against those teams on a roadtrip a few weeks ago:
“It was huge,” said first baseman and All-Star Connor Spencer. “Going into this three-game series with Tri-City, we knew what we did last time. To get this last game was massive for our wild card race. After losing five with Tri-City and finally pulling this one out, this was a huge confidence boost to all of us.”
While Brooklyn did win their fifth straight game on Sunday afternoon, Staten Island still remains in the wild card picture, 3.5 games behind the Cyclones with seven games left against their New York rivals and 13 games left in the regular season.
The other story of the game was Staten Island pitcher Ty Hensley (0-0, 4.15). The first round pick in the Yankees’ 2012 draft had the best start of his professional career, throwing three innings of one hit ball, striking out four batters and walking none.
“I got to sit in the stands the last two night and got a chance to watch their tendencies,” said Hensley. “I didn’t really change anything I do. I threw my game today and got good results.”
After Hensley struck out two batters in the first inning, Staten Island got the scoring started. After Collin Slaybaugh led off with a double and advanced to third on a Ty McFarland sacrifice fly with two outs. Isaias Tejeda would come to bat and hit a ball that went off the third base bag and into left field, scoring Slaybaugh to make it 1-0. Staten Island would keep the hitting going with RBI singles from Austin Aune , Connor Spencer, and Vicente Conde to make the score 4-0. All four runs came against Luis Ordosgoitti (2-5, 4.83), who only went 2/3 of an inning in the loss.
For manager Mario Garza, the bounce off the third base bag might have been the break the offense needed after just three runs in the last two games:
“That was something that could get some momentum going,” responded Garza. “A ball bouncing your way could really make for big things.”
Hensley would get into trouble in the third inning allowing a leadoff double to Jose Solano and hitting Alfredo Gonzalez to leave first and third with one out for the Valleycats. However, he struck out the next two batters to preserve his shutout.
“Ty did a good job. There’s a reason that we were really on him in the organization,” replied Garza. “It was really good to see.”
The Valleycats would cut into that four-run lead in the fifth and sixth innings. In the fifth, after a second double from Jose Solano against Andrew Chin, Ariel Ovando hit a single to center to score Solano and make it 4-1.
With Andury Acevedo in to pitch the sixth inning, Staten Island made some sloppy errors. A Jose Javier error at second base to start the inning led to a RBI when Nick Tanielu hit a ground-rule double to right field to make it 4-2. The lead would shrink to 4-3 with Vicente Conde made an error on a ball hit by Solano that allowed Tanielu to score. However, Acevedo and reliever Tim Giel combined to give up two hits in the last 12 batters of the game (both singles).
Staten Island would add a key insurance run in the bottom of the sixth inning when Javier redeemed himself for the error from the top half with a single to right field that scored Conde to make it 5-3. Javier would follow up in the eighth inning with a long solo home run to left field, his second of the season, to make it 6-3.
“He’s been earning opportunities to play,” said Garza. “I’ve said when we talk among our coaches, we talk about there is going to be somebody that comes up big late that hasn’t been an everyday guy. Maybe, he’s the guy.”
Staten Island will now take two days off due to the All-Star Game taking place on Tuesday in Brooklyn. The Baby Bombers will resume play on Wednesday night at home against the Brooklyn Cyclones at 7:05 PM ET.
Spencer will be one of the four players representing Staten Island in the game on Tuesday. I talked to him after the game about what it felt like to be told he would be playing in the game:
“It’s an honor, especially first season as a pro,” remarked Spencer. “I’m excited for it and it’s going to be a much needed break after a long stretch we’ve had.”