Stavisky had the game-winning hit in the ninth.
METAIRIE, La. – The Sacramento River Cats moved out to a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five PCL Championship Series with a thrilling ninth inning comeback. Steve Holley was at Zephyr Field, and he gives a full report on the River Cats stunning win.
Winning baseball games is never tiring when you’re Sacramento River Cats manager Tony DeFrancesco.
“It’s never old,” DeFrancesco said Wednesday.
But the manner in which the River Cats are winning of late is sure getting stressful.
On Wednesday, Sacramento rallied for the third time in their last four games, this time from a 2-1 deficit in the ninth inning to down New Orleans, 3-2, at Zephyr Field in Game Two of the Pacific Coast League’s best-of-five championship series.
“These guys don’t quit,” DeFrancesco said afterward.
Down to their last two outs, Jorge Piedra turned on a 0-1 offering from New Orleans reliever Carlos Muniz and connected on a game-tying solo home run that would land just to the left of the pool area located behind the right field fence.
Moments later, Brant Colamarino singled to right and Brian Stavisky followed with a game-winning double that bounced off the wall past Chip Ambres in left. It was Stavisky's first start in the playoffs. He had a walk to go along with his game-winning hit.
A half inning later, Brad Ziegler got New Orleans right fielder Jose Feliciano to bounce into a force play at second for the game’s final out.
“Stavisky has been with us for awhile now and came up with the big hit for us,” said DeFrancesco. “I can’t say enough about the way these guys play.”
Jerry Blevins (1-0) picked up the win in relief, striking out four of the six hitters he faced. Ziegler picked up his second save in as many nights.
“Blevins has been solid for us and Ziegler has just been awesome so far,” DeFrancesco said.
Early on, it looked like the game might turn into a slugfest.
Veteran Lou Merloni led things off with a line-drive home run to left to give Sacramento the early lead at 1-0.
Sacramento starter Mike Madsen would give up two first-inning runs, but worked himself into a good grove and wound-up going 6.1 innings. He surrendered just the two early runs on five hits.
“He settled in and gave us a chance to win,” the 'Cats manager said.
The River Cats took the series lead at 2-0, and the win puts the cardiac 'Cats in the driver’s seat as the series shifts back to Sacramento beginning Friday.
A Sacramento meltdown seems unlikely, but this isn’t the first time New Orleans has played with their backs against the wall.
The Zephyrs were just 8-17 in their first 25 games in August and dropped from first place to two games back in the division before winning seven of their last nine games to pull back out in front and win the American Division.
DeFrancesco is ecstatic about his team’s play thus far in the series, but he isn’t ready to get complacent.
“Absolutely,” he said when asked about having to be concerned over a letdown.
“We still have to go back home and get our bullpen all solid again. Hopefully we can (win) it on Friday and just play good at home.”