Baseball: Ninth Inning Rally Tops Lake Monsters 4-3

Courtesy Vermont Lake Monsters

NORWICH, CT — A Sam McMillan RBI single tied the game and Nick Ames followed with a walkoff RBI single as the Connecticut Tigers rallied for a 4-3 victory over the Vermont Lake Monsters in New York-Penn League action Monday night at Dodd Stadium.

Bryce Nightengale (0-2), who came on in relief to start the bottom of the ninth inning with Vermont leading 3-2, deflected groundball by Isrrael De La Cruz for a leadoff infield single and Reece Hampton followed with a double off the glove of first baseman Alfonso Rivas. After an intentional walk loaded the bases, McMillan lined a 1-1 pitch to right tying the game 3-3 before Ames lined the first pitch he saw into left for the walkoff single.

It was the fourth walkoff loss of the season for Vermont and the third time the Lake Monsters have lost when leading after eight innings (both also happened at Connecticut July 14th). It was also Vermont’s 10th one-run loss overall and third in four games at Connecticut this season.

Vermont had taken a 3-1 lead in the top of the seventh with three runs on four straight singles after a leadoff error and hit batter. Payton Squier loaded the bases with his second bunt single of the night before three straight RBI singles from Jose Rivas, Marcos Brito and Max Schuemann.

But with three runs in and the bases loaded and no outs, the Lake Monsters were unable to add to the lead as Felix Viloria came on in relief of starter Gio Arriera to get a strikeout and two pop ups to keep the score 3-1. Viloria (1-0), who had given up six runs over just one inning in only other appearance for Connecticut, then retired Vermont in order in botht the eighth and ninth innings allowing the Tigers to comeback in the ninth.

Vermont starter Chase Cohen, who allowed seven runs in just 2/3 of an inning in his last appearance July 25th, rebounded with three scoreless innings with one hit and two walks allowed. The 2018 ninth-round pick finished with two strikeouts in both the first and second innings before three punchouts in the third for seven total in the three innings.

Hampton (3-for-4), who had given Connecticut a 1-0 lead with an RBI triple in the fifth, cut the Tigers deficit to 3-2 with an RBI single in the bottom of the seventh off reliever Jose Mora, who allowed two runs on three hits with four walks and four strikeouts over four innings before Charlie Cerny tossed a scoreless bottom eighth.

De La Cruz was 1-for-2 with two walks and three runs scored for Connecticut (21-20), while Devon Dugas was 3-for-4 as the put together the four straight hits in the ninth inning after just five hits over the first eight innings. Arriera tossed six scoreless innings on five hits before giving up the four straight singles in the seventh inning.

Squier went 3-for-4 with a run and double, while Brito 3-for-4 and Schuemann 2-for-4 for Vermont (20-23). The Lake Monsters and Tigers will play the second of the three-game series at Connecticut on Tuesday at 7:05 pm. After the serie finale Wednesday, Vermont returns to Centennial Field for a three-game series starting Thursday.