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When you think of the River Cats, dogs may be the last thing on your mind. But for their fourth annual "Bark in the Ballpark" event on Sunday afternoon, it was the first thing on the minds of many dog owners. By paying for an extra dog ticket, they were able to bring their favorite pooches into the lawn area for the game.
“It’s just an event we wanted to offer to our fans and dog lovers,” media relations director Rebecca Brutlag said.
Before the game, owners were able to parade their dogs on the field as part of the costume contest. While the aerobics instructor dog got a lot of attention on the lawn, the bumble bee pup won the goodie bag, complete with tickets to a future River Cats game.
The Sacramento SPCA was present to spread the word about the shelter.
“We have dogs here that are available for adoption, and we’re letting people know about all the different services we offer,” SPCA volunteer Vanessa Kalinowski said.
The shelter’s booth provided a plethora of information for dog owners, including their spay and neuter program, vaccination clinic and adoption services. A scrapbook at the table provided cute adoption stories for animal lovers to browse. Adoptable dogs sat on the lawn with volunteers, all wearing bright vests that proclaimed, “Adopt me!”
Grateful Dog owner Robert Espinosa set up his booth next to the SPCA. Attending for the second year in a row, Espinosa provided a bowl of delicious dog treats and some information about the services offered at his boarding facility.
“It’s just a fun day to get out with the family, eat bad food and tout the gospel according to Grateful Dog,” Espinosa said.
Grateful Dog provides cage-free boarding, daycare services, a self-service dog wash and full-service grooming.
While the dogs enjoyed the free food from Atta Boy dog food, relaxed on the lawn and took a quick dip in the provided kiddy pools, the humans focused on the game.
The second of a four-game series against the Tacoma Rainiers, the Cats pulled off an 8-3 win. In the bottom of the second inning, the Cats got their first run. Singles from Josh Donaldson and Matt Carson, and a walk from Michael Taylor, who got hit by a pitch from Rainier pitcher Ian Snell, loaded the bases. Adam Heether took a sacrifice with a hit directly to center field and Carson got the run before a strikeout from Corey Wimberly ended the inning.
After a short action-packed, Frisbee-catching show with the Skyy Dogs between innings, the Rainiers quickly came back in the top of the third inning while a loyal fan howled his disapproval. With Jack Hannahan on first, a home run over the left field wall by Josh Bard gave the Rainiers a 2-1 lead.
In the fourth inning, the Cats took over the lead once again with three runs. First to bat, Carson scored a double with a hit to right field. A hit by Donaldson to center field took Carson to third, and Taylor’s ground ball took him out but brought Carson home.
With the bases loaded, a double from Matt Watson brought Heether and Wimberly home, while Tolleson ended the inning with an out at home base.
The cheers and the barks got louder as the streak continued in the fifth inning, when the Cats scored four runs. A tired Snell was replaced by Lavale Speigner as the bottom of the fifth began.
And as the heat rose, so did the tempers. A hit by Donaldson to left field seemed to have been caught by Mike Wilson and then immediately dropped. The play loaded the bases and sparked anger in Tacoma manager Daren Brown who argued with the call. A decision by the umpires to stick to their call left Donaldson safe and Brown irate. His anger got him thrown from the game.
In the fifth inning, the Cats scored four more runs, holding strong to their lead. Tacoma was able to score one more run in the sixth inning, but couldn't catch to the Cats' five point lead.