A four-run first inning propelled the host Hudson Valley Renegades to an 8–3 victory over the Tri-City ValleyCats in the final game of the 2012 New York-Penn League Championship Series.
The Sept. 13 win brought the league championship to the Tampa Bay Rays’ Short-Season A affiliate for the first time since 1999, which marked the last time the team advanced to the playoffs and the second of consecutive titles for the team. The Renegades, who forced a third and final game in the championship series with a three-run home run by Tampa Bay’s 2012 first-round draft pick Richie Shaffer a night earlier, had a league-best record of 52-24 during the regular season and claimed the league’s McNamara Division championship.
Following a lead-off walk by Joey Rickard, a throwing error by Tri-City starter Joe Bircher ignited Hudson Valley in the first inning of the championship-clinching contest. After giving up a two-run single to Ryan Dunn and a run-scoring single to Leonardo Reginatto, Bircher’s night came to an end.
Hudson Valley got its final run of the first inning when Jake DePew singled off Bircher’s replacement, Brady Rodgers, who escaped the inning by striking out the next two batters.
Marty Gantt’s sacrifice fly and a throwing error by Tri-City third baseman Neiko Johnson enabled Luke Maile and Dunn, respectively, to score in the bottom of the sixth inning. Gantt drove in his team’s seventh run with a single in the eighth and scored later in the frame on a wild pitch.
Ryan Garton, the seventh pitcher used by Hudson Valley and the 14th to toe the rubber in the game, entered with runners at first and second with one out in the top of the ninth. He walked Joe Sclafani before inducing a pair of ground outs.
Left-handed reliever Brandon Henderson improved to 2-0 in the postseason by striking out four and walking one in two innings of no-hit ball. Henderson is 12-4 over the last three regular seasons with the Rays’ Gulf Coast League affiliate, Appalachian League representative Princeton (W.Va.) and Hudson Valley.
Before dispatching the Houston Astros’ New York-Penn League affiliate, the Renegades needed three games to dispatch division rival Brooklyn in one of the two semifinal series. After dropping a 4-0 decision to the New York Mets’ New York-Penn League team near Coney Island, the Renegades recorded 8-1 and 2-0 victories on their home diamond at Dutchess Stadium in Wappingers Falls, N.Y.
Despite winning the division crown over Cyclones by seven games, Hudson Valley dropped seven of 10 regular-season games against the eventual league wild card.
Former Tampa Bay infielder Jared Sandburg served as Hudson Valley’s manager in 2012, while Sarasota (Fla.) resident and former major leaguer hurler Kyle Snyder was the team’s pitching coach.
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