River Cats rally late to beat ‘Cakes

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METAIRIE- The Sacramento River Cats scored twice in the top of the ninth inning and twice more in the top of the 10th to rally past the New Orleans Baby Cakes, 4-3 on Sunday afternoon.

New Orleans grabbed a quick 2-0 lead on back-to-back homers in the first inning by Isan Diaz and Yadiel Rivera. Diaz homered for the second day in a row and the 14th time on the year to extend his hitting streak to 11 games, while Rivera belted his 11th long ball. It was the second time this season the ‘Cakes hit consecutive home runs.

Zac Gallen worked his way out of a second-inning jam where he loaded the bases with one out, striking out opposing pitcher and inducing an inning-ending grounder from Mike Gerber, and settled in to retire the final 11 batters he faced. Gallen struck out the side in the fifth and became the fastest pitcher in New Orleans history to eclipse 100 strikeouts in a season, while lowering his ERA to a league-leading 1.57.

Joe Gunkel, making his first appearance with the Baby Cakes after spending more than six weeks on the injured list, took over in the sixth and held Sacramento scoreless for three innings.

Attempting to become the first New Orleans hurler to record a four-inning save since J.D. Arteaga in 2002, Gunkel gave up his to the first three River Cats in the ninth, cutting the lead in half. After R.J. Alvarez entered the game, an errant pickoff attempt at second base led to a sacrifice fly by Abiatal Avelino to tie the score.

Sacramento loaded the bases with no outs in the 10th against Mike Kickham (3-2), who issued a walk to Chris Shaw to force in the go-ahead run. A sacrifice fly by Ryan Howard brought home an insurance tally which proved vital, as the ‘Cakes plated a run in the bottom half on Deven Marrero’s sacrifice fly before Fernando Abad was able to nail down his eighth save.

Sam Coonrod (2-4) worked a perfect ninth inning to earn the victory as five River Cats relievers combined to hold the Baby Cakes hitless over the final five innings.

The Baby Cakes came up short for a third straight time in their attempt to move a season-high eight games above the .500 mark.

The ‘Cakes wrap up the homestand with Monday’s series finale against the River Cats. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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