Sacramento Captures Triple-A Title

Team captain Lou Merloni won the game MVP.

Looking to add an exclamation mark to their dream 2007 season, the Sacramento River Cats cruised to a 7-1 victory over the Richmond Braves in the Bricktown Showdown. With the victory, Sacramento has earned the 2007 Triple-A championship title.

Sacramento put the game away early with a five-run outburst in the third inning. Facing Richmond right-hander Blaine Boyer, Sacramento managed only two hits and no runs through the first two innings. However, the River Cats' offense took off in the third inning versus Boyer. Ninth-place hitter Danny Putnam drew a walk on a full-count after working back from an 0-2 count. He moved to third when lead-off batter Nick Blasi stung an opposite field single to right with Putnam on the move.

Sacramento jumped on the board with the next hitter, veteran Lou Merloni, who was named team captain for the game. Looking to drive-in Putnam with a sacrifice fly, Merloni did that and more, driving a high homerun over the wall in left-field to give Sacramento a 3-0 lead and the momentum. Jorge Piedra followed with a single and after a Jeremy Brown force-out, Brant Colamarino all-but put the game out of reach with a line-drive, opposite-field two-run homer.

Armed with a 5-0 lead, Kazuhito Tadano went to work mowing down the R-Braves' hitters. Tadano came into the game with two-outs and one-on in the second inning when River Cats' starter Shane Komine was forced to leave the game with a tight right shoulder. Komine returned to the dugout later in the game and appeared to be moving comfortably. Tadano was outstanding in relief of Komine. The Japanese native worked 4.1 brisk innings, allowing only one run. He struck-out four and walked none. Tadano threw 63 pitches on the night, 41 for strikes.

Sacramento added another run in the sixth inning. Putnam again was the instigator, walking with one-out. He stole second with Blasi at the plate and then came around to score on a Merloni single to deep short. Putnam scored just ahead of Brent Lillibridge's throw home with a textbook feet-first slide. The River Cats would add one more run in the top of the ninth when Colamarino singled on a pop-fly to short left to score Piedra.

Julio Manon relieved Tadano with runners on the corners and none-out in the seventh inning. He induced a 4-6-3 double-play off of the bat of 2006 River Cat Doug Clark. That double-play scored the Braves' only run, but also quieted their only real rally of the night. Manon worked two scoreless innings in total, allowing only one hit. Sacramento veteran Ron Flores worked a perfect ninth to close out the River Cats' title win.

Merloni was crowned the MVP of the game based on his 2-4 effort with that three-run homer and four RBI. He also made two nice defensive plays at third. Colamarino had a big night for Sacramento, as well. The first baseman had three hits, scored three runs and had three RBI. He also made a spectacular sliding catch of a pop-up in foul territory just in front of the tarps.

The River Cats finished the season with seven consecutive playoff wins.

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