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Cats Knot Score in Eighth, But Isotopes Win in Extras

Matos, Fitzgerald, and Gonzalez All Homer
Luis Matos connects with a pitch during Sacramento's contest at Sutter Health Park on Aug. 18. (Ralph Thompson Photo)
September 3, 2023

WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Like much of the series, there was no separation at the end of the ninth between the Sacramento River Cats and the Albuquerque Isotopes on Sunday, which sent the contest into extra innings where Albuquerque scored four times in their final at-bats for an 8-5 victory

WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Like much of the series, there was no separation at the end of the ninth between the Sacramento River Cats and the Albuquerque Isotopes on Sunday, which sent the contest into extra innings where Albuquerque scored four times in their final at-bats for an 8-5 victory in the series finale.

It took until the fourth inning for either team to break through onto the scoreboard when the Isotopes (58-74) used four consecutive singles to open the frame, the third of which was an RBI knock from Jimmy Herron. Plating the second run was Jonathan Morales, who delivered a sacrifice fly to left field

Right away the River Cats (58-73) got a run back, answering in the home half of the inning on a wild pitch that scored Heliot Ramos, who had walked with one out.

Then in the bottom of the fifth Sacramento took its first lead, with the tying run scoring thanks to a no-doubt blast by Luis Matos on the first pitch he saw to straightaway left field. While it was his ninth homer of the year for Matos, it was his second in as many games, making him the third River Cat to do so on three separate occasions this year. The first was Armando Alvarez, while last night Ramos became the second to achieve the feat.

Two batters later Tyler Fitzgerald also lifted off, sending his own solo dinger out to left field on a 2-1 offering. That gave Fitzgerald 20 home runs in all of 2023 including his time with Richmond, which gives him his second straight 20-20 season (20 home runs, 26 stolen bases). Should he hit two more home runs in the 18 Sacramento games remaining, he would be the first River Cat to log a 20-20 season since Jarrett Parker did so in the 2015 campaign.

As quickly as it had come, the lead disappeared in the sixth when the Isotopes struck with their own solo homer, a leadoff shot from Aaron Schunk out to left field on a 1-1 pitch. Albuquerque then reclaimed the lead with their swings in the seventh after four straight walks by Randy Rodriguez forced in the go-ahead run.

In a series that has been as closely contested as this one, it was no surprise that the River Cats found a way to knot the ballgame in the home half of the eighth, doing so with their third home run of the game. Leaving the yard was Luis Gonzalez, his first this season with the River Cats as he hammered an 0-1 pitch over the bullpens and into the lawn area in right field that ultimately sent the game into extra innings.

Starting with the free runner at second, a single from Willie MacIver pushed the Isotopes in front before adding on insurance, using a pair of singles and a throwing error on a double steal that resulted in four runs for Albuquerque.

Attempting a comeback similar to last night, the River Cats pushed a run across on an RBI groundout from Johan Camargo, but that was all they could muster as the final score rested at 8-5. The loss dropped the River Cats to 3-4 in extra-inning contests, their first since they were downed 6-3 by Tacoma in 11 innings on July 21. It also resulted in a series split with Albuquerque, Sacramento’s eighth series split of 2023.

Charged with the loss was Nick Swiney (0-2), who was responsible for the four runs in the ninth (only two earned) on a pair of hits with one strikeout. Taking credit for the win was Matt Carasiti (2-1), as he pitched a scoreless ninth while allowing one hit and punching out two.

A trio of River Cats produced multi-hit efforts on the day in Fitzgerald, Ramos, and Gonzalez, with the former and latter each driving in a run thanks to their big flies while last night’s hero Ramos was 2-for-3 with a run scored and a pair of walks.

The River Cats now turn the page to their next series as they travel to Las Vegas tomorrow to take on the Aviators, Tuesday’s series opener scheduled for 7:05 at Las Vegas Ballpark.