Courtesy Vermont Lake Monsters
TROY, NY — Payton Squier snapped a 2-2 tie with a two-out triple in the top of the eighth inning before Javier Godard (two-run) and Anthony Churlin (solo) added back-to-back home runs in the ninth to lead the Vermont Lake Monsters to a 6-2 New York-Penn League victory over the Tri-City ValleyCats Saturday night at Bruno Stadium.
After Tri-City had scored an unearned run in bottom of seventh to tie game 2-2, Aaron Arruda led off the eighth for Vermont with a walk. Pinch runner Adrian Spitz was stuck at first after a pair of flyouts before coming all the way around to score the go ahead run as Squier tripled on a line drive to center.
The Lake Monsters got insurance runs in the ninth as James Terrell led off with a single, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored on Godard’s two-run homer to left. It was Godard’s first home run in 45 career regular-season games for Vermont (Godard had a solo homer in the Lake Monsters game one semifinal series win last year vs. Mahoning Valley).
Churlin followed with a line drive solo homer to leftfield, giving Vermont its first back-to-back home runs in a regular-season game since Lana Akau and Skye Bolt June 22, 2015 vs. Aberdeen (Logan Farrar and Greg Deichmann also hit back-to-back homers in the semifinal game one win over Mahoning Valley last year).
Earlier Vermont starter Jose Mora had worked out of trouble over first three innings with help of a double play and a runner out on home on a one-out grounder to shortstop Jesus Lage, but back-to-back fielding errors by third baseman Javier Godard and Mora plated Tri-City’s first run in the bottom of fourth for a 1-0 lead.
Like Mora, reliever Brandon Marsonek worked out of trouble in his two scoreless innings despite issuing six walks. Four of the six came in the fifth, but a pickoff after the first walk and a bases loaded strikeout ended the inning. Marsonek walked two more batters in the sixth, but got an inning-ending double play with runners on the corners to keep the game 1-0 Tri-City.
Vermont took a 2-1 lead in seventh as James Terrell (single) and Jeramiah McCray (double) both scored on two-out fielding errror by shortstop Jeremy Pena before the ValleyCats tied the game in the bottom of the seventh with an unearned run on a RBI single.
Lake Monsters reliever Slater Lee (1-0) allowed the one unearned run on one hit with one walk and five strikeouts over the final three innings to earn the win. The three Vermont pitchers combined for 12 strikeouts and issued 11 walks, but held Tri-City to just four hits and 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
Terrell was 2-for-4 with two runs, while Churlin was 2-for-3 with the solo homer as Vermont evened its record at 1-1. ValleyCats releiver Tim Hardy (0-1) allowed three runs (one earned) on four hits with one walk and four strikeouts over 3 1/3 innings to take the loss.
The Lake Monsters and ValleyCats will play the third-and-final game of the series at Tri-City on Sunday at 5:00 pm. Vermont then opens its 2018 home season at historic Centennial Field on Monday against the Connecticut Tigers starting at 7:05 pm.