River Cats give up slim lead, game

WEST SACRAMENTO — With a 2-1 lead in the top of the eighth inning, Sacramento River Cats manager Dave Brundage called upon Joey Marciano to finish out the game’s final two innings against the Tacoma Rainiers.

The left-handed reliever gave up a run in the eighth inning, but two strikeouts and a flyball out helped him escape a potential disaster.

When the ninth inning came around, Marciano found himself in a jam again after walking the leadoff hitter and allowing a single.

But this time, his strikeout stuff couldn’t save him as shortstop Mason McCoy hit a three-run home run over the left field wall two at-bats later to give the Rainiers a 4-2 lead.

Replacing Marciano on the mound was Ben Bowden, who induced a groundout and got a strikeout to end the inning. Sacramento’s lineup would go scoreless in the bottom of the frame as the Rainiers won 4-2 at Sutter Health Park on Saturday.

It was nothing short of a late-inning collapse for the River Cats, since they had the lead from the first inning to one out into the ninth inning.

“I think you just try to move on the next day,” said River Cats left fielder Jason Vosler. “There’s really nothing we can do in the clubhouse differently. We just come to work the next day and try to put it out of our minds.”

Vosler gave Sacramento a 1-0 lead in the first inning after he launched a 1-2 curveball for a 407-foot home run that landed just inside the right field foul pole.

“I was just trying to get a good pitch to hit,” Vosler said. “I’ve been struggling a little bit and he hung the ball, and to me, a hanging curveball from the left side was kind of like a gift there and I made the most of it.”

Vosler’s home run was the only run allowed by Rainier’s starting pitcher Austin Warner. The 28-year-old left-hander gave up two hits and struck out six batters across five innings of work.

Taking over for Warner was Rainier’s reliever Phillips Valdez, who gave up Sacramento’s second run when River Cat’s second baseman Jason Krizan lined a double to the left-center field gap which scored right fielder Austin Dean in the seventh inning.

Valdez went 1 1/3 innings before Rainiers manager Tim Federowicz used relievers Taylor Williams, Patrick Weigel and Nick Ramirez to finish the game’s final three innings. None of the three pitchers allowed a run, with Weigel earning the win and Ramirez being credited with his ninth save.

While Tacoma opted to use a traditional game plan with its pitching staff, Sacramento managed its arms much differently as none of its pitchers threw more than two innings.

Luis Ortiz, Bryan Brickhouse, Shelby Miller and Cody Carroll pitched seven scoreless innings for Sacramento, combining for 11 strikeouts.

The strategy was seemingly executed to perfection, but things took a different turn when Marciano entered the game in the eighth inning.

Giving up four hits and walking two batters over 1 1/3 innings, Marciano earned all four of Tacoma’s runs and was the game’s losing pitcher.

Following Saturday’s loss, the River Cats (44-61) defeated Tacoma (47-57) 10-8 on Sunday in the final game of a six-game series where the Rainiers took four games.

The River Cats begin a six-game series at the Salt Lake Bees (51-54) on Tuesday.

— Henry Krueger is a rising sophomore at Gonzaga University and an intern for The Enterprise this summer. Follow him on Twitter: @henrykrveger.

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