Ending the 2017 season with a wild, impossible-to-believe ninth inning rally at Raley Field on Labor Day brought something positive to what had been a mostly down season for the Sacramento River Cats in its third year as the San Francisco Giants’ Triple A affiliate.
Slade Heathcott’s walk-off homer in the bottom of the 10th, his second of the game, gave the River Cats a 10-9 win over El Paso and capped a five-run ninth inning comeback that featured four home runs, including Chris Shaw’s two-run homer – also his second of the game – that tied the game 9-9.
But while the final game of the season was a thrill to watch, overall, 2017 was pretty dismal for the River Cats, who failed to make the Pacific League playoffs for the fourth year in a row. Sacramento finished the season with a 64-77 record to earn a last-place finish in the PCL’s Pacific Northern Division.
Attendance at Raley Field saw Sacramento finish as one of three PCL teams to average more than 8,000 fans per game. Sacramento fans, who still showed their support for the team and love for baseball, averaged 8,032 per game. Perhaps hampered in part by an unusually hot summer, this number is down from 8,587 in 2016.
Good news lies ahead on Saturday, March 24, when the San Francisco Giants will return for an exhibition game at Raley Field to kick off the 2018 campaign. The Giants last appeared at Raley Field to open the 2016 season before a boisterous, sold-out crowd.
Here’s to hoping for a better season next year.
Photos by Steve Martarano