Baseball: Batavia Edges Vermont 6-5

Courtesy Vermont Lake Monsters

BURLINGTON — Michael Donadio’s sacrifice fly in the top of the ninth inning scored Sean Reynolds with a tie-breaking unearned run as the Batavia Muckdogs rallied from an early 4-0 deficit for a 6-5 New York-Penn League victory over the Vermont Lake Monsters Saturday night at historic Centennial Field.

Vermont scored four runs in the second without the benefit of a base hit as seven of the 10 batters they sent to the plate in the inning reached on base on balls. After a strikeout to start the inning, Batavia starter Chris Vallimont walked each of the next five Lake Monsters to force home two runs. Then with 2 outs, reliever Alex Vesia walked Payton Squier and threw a wild pitch to plate two more runs for the 4-0 Vermont lead.

The Muckdogs got two unearned runs in the third after loading the bases on an error and two singles. Vermont starter Gus Varland nearly escaped the jam by striking out the next two batters before allowing a Denis Karas RBI single. Batavia got the second run of the inning when reliever Chris Kohler came in and hit Michael Donadio.

Varland was charged with the two unearned runs on four hits with one walk and five strikeouts over 2 1/3 innings and has not allowed an earned run over his last 12 2/3 innings of work. After the eight Vermont walks in the first two innings, Batavia’s Manuel Rodriguez came on in relief to start the fourth inning and allowed just two hits with five strikeuts over the next four innings to help keep the Muckdogs in the game.

Batavia tied the game 4-4 on a Jerar Encarnacion opposite field solo homer off Kohler in the fifth and Brayan Hernandez two-out RBI single off Clark Cota in the sixth. The Muckdogs took a 5-4 lead in the eight on another two-out base hit, this one a Pablo Garcia RBI single. Vermont tied the game in the bottom of eighth on two walks, an error and run-scoring wild pitch.

Reynolds, who leads the NY-Penn League in homers, walks and strikeouts, reached safely for the first time in the series on a one-out walk and promptly stole second. He advanced to third when Denis Karas’ groundball to short got behind Jeremy Eierman for an error. Donadio followed with the sac fly to center scoring Reynolds with the winning run.

Vermont batters finished the night with 11 walks, the most for the Lake Monsters in a game at Centennial Field since August 27, 2010 when Connecticut pitchers issued 12 walks in an 8-2 victory over Vermont. Saturday’s loss was also the Lake Monsters ninth one-run defeat of the season.

Donadio was 2-for-2 with two runs and two RBI for Batavia (17-23), while Brayan Hernandez was 2-for-5 with a run scored and an RBI. C.J. Carter pitched the eighth inning to earn the victory, while Elin Alcala worked around a one-out single in the ninth to pick up his third save. Slater Lee (2-3) was charged with two runs (one earned) on three hits over two innings to take the loss for Vermont (19-22).

The Lake Monsters and Muckdogs will wrap up the three-game series 5:05 Sunday at Centennial Field. The first 750 fans will receive a special 25th Season Baseball Cap and all fans can “Have A Catch” on the field after the game.