When the Connecticut Tigers came to Burlington for a three game series against the Vermont Lake Monsters (Aug. 25-27) there backs were to the wall. The Lake Monsters held a three game lead over them with 15 left.
A Lake Monsters sweep would have all but ended any realistic hopes of the Tigers winning the New York - Penn Leagues Stedlar Division. Instead it was Connecticut who did the sweeping, playing themselves right back into the race. The Tigers outscored the Lake Monsters 21-10 over the course of the three games and left town in a dead tie for the division lead. Below is a game by game accounting of that fateful sweep.
The Connecticut Tigers scored five runs in the top of the seventh inning for a 6-0 lead and then had to hold on for a 6-5 New York-Penn League victory as the Vermont Lake Monsters scored five times over the final three innings at historic Centennial Field on Wednesday night.
The Tigers got an unearned run in the fourth inning as Julio Rodriguez scored from second base on a two-out fielding error by Vermont second baseman Hendry Jimenez for a 1-0 Connecticut lead. The game stayed that way until the Tigers punched across five runs in the seventh inning on a pair of two-run singles from Ryan Enos and Alexander Nunez.
Connecticut's fifth run of the seventh also scored as Nunez's two-run single got past leftfielder Kevin Keyes for his second error of the inning and allowed James Robbins to score from first base with the Tigers sixth run.
Vermont got one run back in the bottom of the seventh on wild pitch and another in the eighth on a two-out bases loaded walk to Keyes. Jason Martinson followed with his third hit of the game to score Wade Moore and Ronnie to cut the deficit to 6-4. Then with runners on second and third, Jimenez flied out to center to end the inning.
A leadoff single from Chad Mozingo in the ninth was followed by an error and a walk to load the bases with no outs in the ninth for the Lake Monsters, but David Freitas and Moore struckout for the first two outs. After a walk to LaBrie made it 6-5 with the bases loaded, Keyes struckout to end the game and snap a Connecticut three-game losing streak.
The Lake Monsters ended the night just 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position, including 1-for-4 with the bases loaded. Martinson was 3-for-3 with a walk and Vermont's only hit of the game with a runner in scoring position with his two-run single in the eighth.
Brennan Smith (1-5) allowed just three hits with two walks and two strikeouts over five scoreless innings for his first win in 10 starts for Connecticut this season. Tim Mowry recorded the final out of the eighth and then worked out of the ninth-inning jam to earn his first save. Enos and Josh Ashenbrenner both had two hits and a double for the Tigers.
Billy Ott (0-2) was charged with one unearned run on three hits with two walks and five strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings for the loss. Reliever Glenn Gibson gave up three runs over 1 1/3 inning and Matt Swynenberg, making his first relief appearance after 11 starts, two runs (one earned) in two innings.
On Thursday night, Ryan Enos had a two-run homer in the first inning, P.J. Polk went 3-for-4 with two runs and Clemente Mendoza tossed six innings for the victory as the Connecticut Tigers defeated the Vermont Lake Monsters 7-3 in New York-Penn League action.
Matt Grace, making his first start for the Lake Monsters since being promoted to Vermont from the Gulf Coast League, walked Polk to leadoff the game and then gave up the two-run homer to Enos on a 1-1 pitch for the quick 2-0 advantage.
Grace settled down to retire the next six batters before the Tigers tacked on three runs in the third for a 5-0 lead. Alexander Nunez had an RBI single scoring Polk and Julio Rodriguez followed with a two-run single to center.
Vermont got two of those runs back in the bottom of the third as Hendry Jimenez doubled with one out and scored on a Chad Mozingo RBI single. After Mozingo was caught stealing for the second out, Blake Kelso walked and went to second on a wild pitch before scoring on a Russell Moldenhauer RBI single.
Polk had the first of his three hits in the fourth inning, an RBI single to score Brett Anderson for a 6-2 lead. Anderson led off the sixth with a double and scored two batters later on a Ryan Soares RBI single. Vermont got its only other run of the game in the bottom of the sixth on three straight singles to start the inning from Moldenhauer, Freitas and Moore.
Mendoza (6-5) allowed three runs on seven hits with two walks and five strikeouts over six innings for the win, while Miguel Mejia tossed three hitless innings with one walk and four strikeouts for his first save of the season. Enos had two runs in the game to go along with his third homer of the season.
Grace (0-1) was charged with six runs (four earned) on five hits over 3 1/3 innings for the loss. Reliever Colin Bates gave up one run on four hits with five strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings, while Kevin Cahill two scoreless innings. Moldenhauer was the only Lake Monsters with two hits in the game.
In the Series finale on Friday, three Connecticut pitchers combined on a one-hitter as the Tigers completed a three-game sweep of the Vermont Lake Monsters with an 8-2 victory. Tiger starter Patrick Lawson allowed the lone Lake Monster hit in the sixth inning as Blake Kelso hit a short fly ball to right-center that rightfielder Chao-Ting Tang ran a long way to try and catch, but the ball just deflected off his glove.
While Vermont had just the one hit, the Lake Monsters had plenty of scoring opportunties in the game as the three Tiger pitchers combined to walk 12 Vermont batters in the game. That included three walks in a scoreless third, three walks in the sixth when Vermont scored its two runs and three walks in a scoreless eighth inning.
The Tigers got a run in the first on a James Robbins RBI single, then added three more runs in the third on a Robbins two-run opposite field homer and a Eirc Roof RBI double. After a pair of runs in the sixth gave Connecticut a 6-0 lead, Ryan Soares had RBI singles in both the seventh and ninth innings for the Tigers.
Kelso's single in the sixth put runners on first and third with no outs for the Lake Monsters before Russell Moldenhauer got an RBI forceout and later scored in the inning on a wild pitch. Vermont starter Aaron Barrett (0-4) was charged with four runs on five hits with five walks to earn the loss.
Lawson (3-3) alllowed two runs on one hit with six walks and two strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings for the win, while Tyler Clark tossed 1 2/3 hitless innings of relief with three walks and two strikeouts. Drew Gagnier walked three and struckout three over the final two innings to complete the one-hitter.
The three-game sweep for Connecticut (33-33) moved the Tigers into a first-place tie with Vermont (31-31) for first-place in the Stedler Division, while Tri-City (32-33) is one-half game behind in third-place.
It was the first time in 14 three-game series played this season that the Lake Monsters have been swept by the opponent. It was also the last regular-season home game for Vermont, which is 17-17 at Centennial (with the completion of a suspended game to be finished at Brooklyn) after beginning the season 13-4 at home.
Now the Lake Monsters are involved in a dandy pennant race. After the Connecticut series the Lake Monsters began a season ending 11 game road trip by splitting the first two games of a three game series against Aberdeen. As of this Past Monday Vermont was 32-32 and in a dead tie for first place with the Tigers, while the Tri-City Valley Cats were just a half game back. To make it more tense their season had just 9 games left. This is the stuff that makes baseball great. It is going to be an exciting finish.