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River Cats are game 4 champions, 3-2

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Olympians from all over northern California joined Sacramento River Cats fans Monday afternoon at Raley Field to celebrate Olympic Day and see the final game in the four-game series against the Fresno Grizzlies.

While the Cats claimed the first run of the day, the Grizzlies soon came back with two homers of their own in the top of the fifth. By the second half, it appeared the Cats might be in for another loss, but the team turned its offensive game on high, scoring once to tie during the eighth and once more at the bottom of the ninth for the big win and a final score of 3-2.

The game started off slowly. Though Cats first baseman Chris Carter gave the Grizzlies a scare in the second, tripling on a fly ball (his first for the year), designated hitter Adrian Cardenas grounded into a double play, and the scoreboard remained 0-0 until the third inning.

But fans remained hopeful as the game picked up for the Cats during that inning. The first three batters for the Grizzlies quickly struck out swinging, and though Cats right fielder Matt Carson grounded out, left fielder Shane Peterson came through for the team, doubling on a fly ball.

Finally, thanks to a sacrifice fly by River Cats third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff, Peterson scored the first run of the game.

The Cats held the lead until the top of the fifth inning, when the Grizzlies’ offense fought back hard. With right fielder Brad Eldred already on first, Grizzlies first baseman Tyler LaTorre hit his first homer of the year, bringing the tally to 2-1.

Things looked grim by the bottom of the eighth when Carson started off by grounding out, but the game started to turn when second baseman Mark Ellis came to bat and doubled on a fly ball to center field, allowing Peterson to run home and tie the game at 2-2.

Tied, it was now down to the wire at the top of the ninth. The Cats once again got the first three batters out quickly. Though center fielder Jai Miller batted first and popped out, Carter, catcher Anthony Recker and Cardenas would all manage to single.

With the bases loaded, Carson came up to bat and singled on a ground ball, allowing Carter to score the winning run and win the game for the Cats.

It was fitting that it was Olympic Day, as the Cats came out champions. Determined to come back after their last two losses, the Cats fought hard, both offensively and defensively, and it showed.

By the ninth inning, pitcher Travis Banwart was making River Cats history with 12 strikeouts.

After the game, manager Darren Bush said, “(Banwart) threw the ball outstanding.”

The River Cats will take on the Tucson Padres at Kino Stadium in Tucson, Ariz. Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Photos by Ron Nabity.

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