The five-time Pacific Coast League Champion Sacramento River Cats have a formidable history in their 20 years of play including years as the Triple-A affiliate of both the Oakland Athletics (2000-2014) and San Francisco Giants (2015-present). The River Cats have played a wide variety of great ballgames so far this century, but a few stand out as the best.
The team is counting down the top five games in the franchise’s history throughout April and it started off its countdown with its fifth-best highlight, which came at the hands of Jarrett Parker and took place Sunday, April 12, 2015 at Raley Field in a game that the River Cats won 6-5 over the Salt Lake Bees.
The River Cats’ inaugural season as the Triple-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants (2015) had quite the start. They kicked off their season with a 1-0 victory over the Salt Lake Bees, where the only run was a walk-off home run by Adam Duvall. In game two, the offense was once again missing, as they were shut out in a 2-0 defeat.
Neither of the two games were that eventful, aside from the Duvall walk-off, as both were basic pitching duels. What made this series memorable is what happened in game three when things changed for the better (or worse depending on how long you stayed).
Each team scored two runs over the first seven innings, and after nine, the game was once again heading to extras. Unlike Duvall’s blast, which provided fireworks and a prompt conclusion, this game had no intention of ending quickly.
The River Cats and Bees traded zeros for the first eight extra innings before Salt Lake’s Carlos Perez finally broke the tie with a solo home run off Brett Bochy in the 18th. The Bees added two insurance runs when Alfredo Marte doubled home Grant Green and Alex Yarbrough.
However, with it being so early in the season and managers not wanting to overwork their bullpen, the Bees were forced to put backup catcher Charlie Cutler on the mound to lock down the save.
Still, a three-run deficit is hard to overcome in one inning no matter who is on the hill. The River Cats wasted no time putting pressure on Cutler, as third baseman Carlos Triunfel led off the inning with a double. Guillermo Quiroz walked to bring the tying run to the plate in the form of John Bowker, but he popped out for the first out of the inning. Duvall, with a chance to walk it off for the second time in three games, was walked as well to set up a grand opportunity for right fielder Jarrett Parker.
Rather than try for a ball in the gap to tie it, Parker decided five hours and 22 minutes was long enough. He unloaded on Cutler’s pitch to right-center field to win the game on a walk-off grand slam. The game was tied for the longest game in franchise history in terms of innings and was the second longest in terms of time - July 18, 2012 at Tacoma (18 innings, 5 hours and 32 minutes). Oddly enough, the River Cats lost that game in 2012 by a score of 2-1 on a walk-off by the Rainiers against outfielder Shane Peterson, who was pitching in the 18th inning.
– Sacramento River Cats