Nick Avila

Sacramento River Cats Can't Overcome Albuquerque Isotopes Big Fourth Inning

The River Cats split the four-game series with the Isotopes and now prepare for the Fresno Grizzlies.

The Sacramento River Cats were celebrating the Fourth of July a day early but the Albuquerque Isotopes celebrated in the fourth inning as the five runs they scored in that inning would be enough for the victory.

That inning and ittle run support cost the Sacramento River Cats (35-49) as they dropped the final game of the four-game series to the Albuquerque Isotopes (33-50). With the 5-1 loss, the series was split two games apiece.

Vin Mazzaro coasted through three innings allowing only two hits, but Mazzaro wouldn’t finish the fourth as he allowed three runs before being pulled. After Chris Stratton allowed a two-run shot to Joey Wong, the Isotopes held a commanding 5-1 lead and Mazzaro’s stat line was complete.

The well-travelled Mazzaro threw just 59 pitches and finished the night with 3 1/3 innings pitched, five hits and four runs allowed.

In the first inning, the Cats got a couple of two-out hits to put them on the board. First baseman Juan Ciriaco doubled and catcher Andrew Susac singled him in to give Sacramento the 1-0 lead, but that would be all the offense could produce on the night.

Isotopes’ Harrison Musgrave shut down the Cats from then on out. Musgrave did so by making sure he kept a couple of the River Cats’ hottest hitters at bay. Center fielder Gorkys Hernandez, whose average had just surpassed .300 on the year, went 0 for 3 against the lefty and Ali Castillo, who boasted three multi-hit games since joining Sacramento went 0 for 2 against Musgrave.

The River Cats missed a good opportunity to claw their way back into the game in the sixth inning when Ciriaco reached base via a walk and Susac singled, but left fielder Chris Denorfia grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. Right fielder Ryan Lollis would fly out to end the inning.

In the eighth inning the Cats had the top of the order up and Hernandez reached base when he hit a shot that deflected off pitcher Brian Schlitter and second baseman Jeff Bianchi couldn’t handle it. But, the next batter, Castillo, grounded into a 6-4-3 double play on the first pitch he saw. It was the third double play of the game for Sacramento. Ciriaco would reach base with a walk but Susac then flew out to right fielder Jordan Patterson to end the inning.

Patterson, who was batting .328 for Albuquerque before the series started, saw his average drop to .311 after going 2 for 17 in the four-game set.

While the offense struggled, Sacramento’s relief pitchers had positive showings with Chris Stratton headlining. Stratton was a bright spot on the night after giving up the home run to Wong, he retired the next 11 Isotopes he faced to go 3 2/3 innings only giving up one earned run.

Alex Torres and Duke Welker each pitched a scoreless inning as well for the Cats.

Susac, who made a spectacular grab to end the top of the ninth inning and had the lone RBI on the night for the River Cats, gave a solid showing going 2 for 4 with a pair of hard hit balls.

The River Cats will now travel to Fresno to face the Grizzlies in a three game series which begins tomorrow night.

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