Having already left 15 runners on base (including the bases loaded in four different innings) and facing ValleyCats closer Blake Ford (10-for-10 in save opportunities and zero runs allowed in 13 innings), the Vermont Lake Monsters found themselves trailing 2-1 to Tri-City on Sunday evening and just three outs away from a six-game losing streak.
But a funny thing happened on the way to their sixth straight loss as the Lake Monsters touched Ford for three runs on four hits in the top of the ninth inning to give Vermont a 4-2 New York-Penn League victory over Stedler Division-leading Tri-City at Bruno Stadium.
Over the first eight innings Vermont was just 2-for-16 with runners in scoring position (neither of the hits plating a run), 3-for-20 with runners on base and 0-for-6 with the bases loaded. After Ford struckout Bruce Maxwell to start the ninth, the Lake Monsters again loaded the bases with back-to-back singles from Wilfredo Solano and Diomedes Lopez followed by a walk to Lewis. But this time Vermont came through with the bases jammed as Austin Booker tied the game with an RBI single to right and Chris Booker followed with a line drive two-run single to left field for the 4-2 lead.
Tri-City had taken a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth on a Joe Sclafini two-run double off Vermont starter Brent Powers, but that would be the last hit of the game for the ValleyCats as three Lake Monster relievers combined to throw 5 2/3 hitless innings with four walks and eight strikeouts. Ryan Dull (3-0) came on in relief in the eighth to record the final two outs of the inning and then set down the ValleyCats in order in the bottom of the ninth to earn the win and push the Lake Monsters back up to the .500 mark at 17-17.
Vermont got its only run before ninth inning in the fifth as Bostick, who went 3-for-5 in the game, led off the inning with a double and later scored after a pair of groundouts. Brett Vertigan, Lopez and Lewis each had two hits as the Lake Monsters outhit the ValleyCats 13-3 in the game. John Wooten also went 2-for-5 with a double to extend his hitting streak to nine games.
The victory was Vermont's second this season when trailing after eight innings and their first road win when trailing after eight innings since July 14, 2011 when the Lake Monsters rallied from 2-1 deficit for an 8-2 extra-innings win at Aberdeen. Sunday's win was also the eighth time in 17 wins that Vermont has won in their final at bat.
Vermont returns home to historic Centennial Field for a quick two-game series against the Lowell Spinners beginning on Monday at 7:05 pm. The first 500 fans to Monday's game will receive a free bobblehead of former Lake Monster and current Oakland A's pitcher Tommy Milone. The series will conclude on Tuesday with a special start time of 11:05 am.