On Friday night at the Richmond County Bank Ballpark in St. George, the Staten Island Yankees (37-35) kept their slim playoff hopes alive against the Vermont Lake Monsters (32-41) with a 8-7 win in ten innings. For the Baby Bombers, it was their second walk-off win in less than a week. In the bottom of the tenth inning, center fielder Collin Slaybaugh hit a two-out, RBI double to right center that drove in Vicente Conde to get the win in the second game of this three-game series.
“He’s a guy who hasn’t had consistent at-bats, but he’s a good player, a great athlete. I was happy to see him come through,” said manager Mario Garza.
With the win and the Cyclones’ loss to the Tri-City Valleycats, Staten Island remains in the hunt for the Wild Card. They are 2.5 games behind the Brooklyn Cyclones with three games to go (two games left with Brooklyn).
For the second straight night, the Baby Bombers gave up the first runs of the game. In the first inning, Staten Island’s starter, Jordan Montgomery (1-0, 3.38) struggled to keep the Lake Monsters off the board. With the bases loaded and one out, Montgomery gave up a two-run double to left fielder Max Kuhn that went past third baseman Renzo Martini and into left field, giving Vermont a 2-0 lead. After a Trent Gilbert RBI groundout, the lead was extended to 3-0. Montgomery went two innings, gave up three runs on three hits, struck out two and walked one in his outing.
Just like Thursday night, the Baby Bombers came right back to score in the bottom of the inning. After a walk to Slaybaugh, and a hit-by-pitch to Billy Flemming, left fielder Connor Spencer continued his red-hot hitting with a single to left field to score Slaybaugh that made it 2-1. The left fielder extended his hit streak to nine games and is hitting .368 on the season. First baseman Chris Breen would follow with a RBI double to right field to make it 3-2. Luis Torrens would cap the inning off with a RBI single to tie the game at three. After scoring six total runs against Brooklyn, the team has scored 17 runs in the first two games of this series, including six in the first inning of those games.
“Last two days we’ve done that. It’s been good to keep the offense going there,” responded Slaybaugh.
The scoring would continue for the Yankees in the second inning. Nathan Mikolas would walk and steal second base to start the inning. Then, shortstop Vicente Conde hit a double to deep center field to score Mikolas and make it 4-3. In the following inning, Breen would continue what would be a great night with a home run to left field. Breen’s eighth home run of the season increased the Yankees’ lead to two. The lead would grow to 6-3 later in the inning after Mikolas hit a ball to left field that was dropped by Kuhn, allowing a run to score.
Vermont would get back in the game with two runs in the fourth inning against Jordan Foley (0-2, 4.46) when catcher Seong-Min Kim would line a double to right field, scoring two runs to cut the deficit to 6-5.. After Foley no-hit the Lake Monsters in four innings back on August 23, Foley would give up three runs on six hits in 3+ innings of relief, striking out two. Breen would make it 7-5 in favor of Staten Island in the bottom of the inning with a single to left field, his third hit and third RBI of the night.
In the sixth inning, Vermont would threaten to tie the game against Foley. With second and third and no out, Garza turned to reliever Rony Bautista. Despite throwing a wild pitch that shrunk the lead to 7-6, Bautista struck out the side to hold the damage at that. Bautista would strike out six batters in two innings of work, becoming the team leader in K’s with 54. Garza told me after the game that “he’s tough to catch [12 wild pitches], but he has big time stuff. Tonight, he executed very well.”
The Lake Monsters would tie the game in the top of the eighth inning against Joe Harvey. With one out and a man on second, Chris Wolfe would reach on an error by second baseman Billy Flemming, allowing the tying run to score. Both teams would have chances in the ninth inning as well as Vermont in the top of the tenth, but no one could capitalize.
That set the stage for the bottom of the tenth inning. Despite pinch runner Devyn Bolasky being caught stealing at second baseman for the second out, Conde drew a seven-pitch walk. Then, Slaybaugh would deliver the big hit that sent the Baby Bombers home with the win. Slaybaugh would tell me after the game about his approach at the plate during his only hit of the game:
“I was trying to relax as much as I can, just trying to replicate my swings in the cage that I’ve been taking every day.”
Staten Island will look for the sweep of Vermont and to stay in the playoff race tonight at 7:05 PM ET at the Richmond County Bank Ballpark. Dillon Overton (0-1, 1.50) will get the start for Vermont against a pitcher yet to be announced for Staten Island.
Staten Island All-Star second baseman/third baseman Ty McFarland is expected back in the lineup tonight after a couple days rest, according to Garza. One of the things I asked Garza about after the game was about how he tries to keep the main goal of developing players in mind while trying to chase a playoff spot:
“Over the last couple of days, we have tried to get some other guys in there,” replied Garza. “Sometimes, it works because you got some guys who are a little fresher. For a while there, we were kinda riding our All-Star guys and everyday guys, so they are getting a break. Hopefully, they will come on well rested and finish strong.”