Saturday night was a rough night for the Staten Island Yankees (37-36) at the Richmond County Bank Ballpark in St. George. The team saw their Wild Card hopes come to an end in a 5-3, 11-inning loss to the Vermont Lake Monsters (33-41). Vermont was able to win the game via two runs in the 11th inning against reliever Andury Acevedo (3-3, 3.90), who took the loss for the Baby Bombers. Dominique Vattuone (3-1, 3.48) got the win for Vermont while closer Koby Gauna picked up his 12th save in as many chances.
For Staten Island, it was all about missed opportunities as they went 4-for-13 as a team with runners in scoring position in the loss.
“It’s a painful way to lose a game in extra innings. We had our chances, they had their chances. I thought the boys competed well,” said manager Mario Garza.
Last night’s game was different from the first two nights in that Staten Island found a way to get on the board first. It happened in the bottom of the third inning against Lake Monsters’ starter Dillon Overton (0-1, 2.40). Isaias Tejeda would lead off the inning with a double down the line in left field. After an Austin Aune strikeout, Vicente Conde and Colin Slaybaugh, last night’s hero, would hit two consecutive singles.
That set the stage for second baseman Billy Fleming to drive a two-run single to centerfield, his first two RBI’s of the season, to make the score 2-0. Fleming, who went 2-for-4 in the game, is hitting .240 in seven games with the Baby Bombers after he hit .375 in the Gulf Coast League with 11 RBI’s (22 games).
“We know he [Fleming] can hit. He has a history of hitting. It’s kind of tough because he came to us in the middle of us trying to make a playoff run. You kind of have to balance guys who have gotten us and new guys like Billy. But, we believe in him and he has done a good job,” replied Garza.
The Lake Monsters would counter with one run in the top of the fourth inning against Staten Island’s starter, David Palladino (6-5, 3.72). After an error by Conde at shortstop started the inning and a Palladino balk, Max Kuhn hit a RBI single to centerto put Vermont on the board, cutting the deficit to 2-1. This would be the first of Kuhn’s three RBI’s in the contest.
Vermont would ultimately take the lead two innings later. In the top of the sixth, the team led off with back-to-back singles from J.P. Sportman and Jose Brizuela. With runners on second and third, Kuhn hit a RBI groundout to third to tie it. Then, John Nogowski hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield to give the Lake Monsters a 3-2 lead.
All in all, it was a solid effort from Palladino in the no-decision. The 21-year-old went six innings, giving up three runs (two earned runs) on five hits, struck out five and walked one. The key for Palladino in this start was his control considering he had walked a combined ten hitters in the last three starts.
“He was locked in mentally. I thought he did a really nice job of attacking hitters and changing speeds. I was proud of him,” responded Garza.
In a series that has featured many Baby Bombers’ comebacks, it was only fitting Staten Island would tie the game in the bottom of the eighth. It started when Flemming and Connor Spencer hit back-to-back singles against reliever Jordan Schwartz. After Fernand Cruzado came in and struck out Christopher Breen, New York Penn-League All-Star Ty McFarland hit a single to right field to score Flemming and tie the game at three. It was McFarland’s 40th RBI of the season, a team-high.
After Matt Wotherspoon (2-3, 1.97) threw three innings of one-hit baseball in relief of Palladino, the game went into extra innings. It was Staten Island’s fourth extra inning game in their last seven. In that 11th inning, Acevedo would struggle after retiring the side in order during the 10th. A walk and a single would put runners on first and third with one out. Then, Kuhn had his third RBI of the night on a groundout to second base to make it 4-3. Nogowski would follow with a RBI double to right center, his second RBI of the night, to extend the lead to 5-3.
While Staten Island did lose the game, Spencer, who was playing first base last night, went 2-for-5 to extend his hitting streak to ten games and hold his batting average at .368.
Now being out of playoff contention, the Baby Bombers will play their final two games of the season against the Brooklyn Cyclones, who are currently tied with the Connecticut Tigers for the final playoff spot. Staten Island and Brooklyn will play a home-and-home, with the first game at MCU Park tonight at 6:05 PM ET. Alberto Baldonado (2-4, 4.64) will take the mound for the Cyclones against a starter yet to be named for Staten Island.
After last night’s game, I asked Garza about what he expects from his team in the final two games as they try to play spoiler to their rival’s postseason hopes:
“I want us to compete every pitch the way we do every night. We’re going to try to win those games just like we do any other night,” said Garza.