WEST SACRAMENTO– In a rare battle between a parent club and its affiliate, the Sacramento River Cats showed their big-league fortitude against the San Francisco Giants, staking a 5-0 lead before ultimately sealing an 8-1 win on Sunday.


Immediately the River Cats went to work in their first at-bats, which came in the top half of the inning as the visitors despite playing in the friendly confines of Sutter Health Park. Each of the first three hitters to the plate reached with a knock, started by a Wade Meckler double before he was driven in on an RBI single from David Villar. A walk loaded the bases, with a run scoring to make it a 2-0 lead when Casey Schmitt grounded into a double play.

Despite drawing a fair share of walks and a hit from Thairo Estrada to put a pair on in the second, the Giants were kept in check by Mason Black who worked 3.2 scoreless innings while surrendering only two hits, though he also walked five.


Insurance for the River Cats came in the fifth inning, scoring three times but doing so without a hit in the frame. Walks mixed in with a strikeout and flyout loaded the bases with two away, though all three came around to score after Casey Schmitt earned an RBI the hard way when he was hit by a pitch. That was ultimately followed by another pair of walks to Coooper Hummel and Brett Wisely, coming to a total of five walks in just the fifth.

Following the fifth it was quick action until the Giants finally broke onto the scoreboard in the eighth, all started by a pinch-hit single by Pablo Sandoval. With two on and two out, Tyler Fitzgerald showed what made him Sacramento’s MVP of the 2023 season with a single through the left side that scored the one and only Giants run of the night after Ismael Munguia was thrown out at third.


Sacramento finished on a high note, producing a trio of runs in the top of the ninth with another pair of RBI from Villar, this time coming on a double to left field that scored Donovan Walton and Heliot Ramos. Driving in the last run of the game was Schmitt, who singled into right center which allowed Villar to round the bases and bring the game to its final of 8-1.

On to close out the ninth for the River Cats was the 2023 Triple-A wins leader Nick Avila, who issued only one walk while also punching out a pair of hitters.

A total of seven hits came from five River Cats bats, led by a pair of hits from each Villar and Ramos. Villar closed his night 2-for-5 with a double, run scored and trio of RBI, while Ramos was 2-for-4 while scoring three times and drawing a walk. Meckler was 1-for-3 with a run scored and a double, and both the pair of Schmitt (1-for-4) and Wisely (1-for-3) each logged a hit.


Only four Giants recorded a knock on the night, including one from Jung Hoo Lee at the top of the lineup. His 1-for-2 performance was matched by Estrada and Fitzgerald, though the later tallied an RBI.

Carson Seymour drew the start for San Francisco, allowing a pair of earned runs on three hits with a walk and a strikeout. What followed was a clean inning from 2023 River Cat Juan Sanchez, though Carson Ragdale was tagged for three earned runs on one hit with four walks and four strikeouts in 2.2. innings of work.


San Francisco will return to the Bay Area to prepare for two final exhibition games against the Oakland Athletics, while the River Cats turn their attention to opening night on Friday, March 29 when they take on the Salt Lake Bees with first pitch at 6:45 p.m.

Photo: David Villar breaks hit bat during Sacramento’s contest against the San Francisco Giants at Sutter Health Park on Sunday, March 24. Photo by Ralph Thompson)

Jake Ward
Author: Jake Ward