By Neal Lutz
Salt Lake City — The Stingers needed 10 innings to defeat league-leading Sacramento Monday, June 9, as they took the first game in the five-game series.
The River Cats jumped on the board first when second baseman Esteban German hit a single, stole second and advanced to third on the blotched throw by catcher Wil Nieves. Designated hitter Dave McCarty then hit an RBI triple to put the Cats up by a run.
Salt Lake City answered with an RBI double by shortstop Alfredo Amezaga who returned to the Stingers lineup Sunday after missing 15 of the Stingers last 17 games with a strained hamstring.
The big hit helped the Cats out again in the third as German slapped a triple and was later batted in on center fielder Chris Prieto”s single.
Johnson and Johnson led the Stingers back in the bottom of the fourth with a home run each. First, left fielder Gary Johnson hit a solo shot over the right field fence. Second baseman Trent Durrington hit a single and right fielder Barry Wesson walked to put two men on base. Third baseman Keith Johnson then hit a three-run homer to put the Stingers up 4-1.
Sacrament answered back with a four-run inning of their own in the top of the fifth. Prieto got two more RBIs on a double, and right fielder Jason Grabowski hit a two-run homer to put the Cats back up by one.
The Stingers got a golden opportunity in the bottom of the eighth when they loaded the bases. The Stingers brought in Julio Ramierez to pinch hit, but he grounded into a double play to end the inning.
“We missed a great opportunity to finish it off in the eighth,” said Stinger”s manager Mike Brumley. “But we just kept battling.”
The Stingers got another chance in the bottom of the ninth as Cat”s right-handed reliever Chad Harville gave up a walk and a hit to put runners on the corners. Amezaga slapped an RBI single over the shortstop to knot the game up at six runs apiece. The River Cats then retired the rest of the batters to send the game into extra innings.
In the bottom of the 10th, Sacramento walked Gary Johnson and Durrington. Johnson advanced to third on a Wesson fielder”s choice that brought Ramirez up again for a chance at redemption. With one out, Ramirez hit the ball to the same spot he hit to in the eighth, but this time the Cats couldn”t get the tail end of the double play as Johnson scored to end the game at 7-6.
“I knew I had a better chance to beat the throw than the first time,” Ramirez said. “I just took off running.”
Closer Bart Miadich pitched two perfect innings to get his second win for the Stingers as they climbed back up to .500.