River Cats’ Offense Powers 9-4 Comeback Win, Sweep Express Five-Run Sixth, Back-to-Back Homers Give Sacramento Ninth Straight Win

WEST SACRAMENTO, CA. –The Sacramento River Cats got off to a slow start, falling behind 3-0 to the Round Rock Express Tuesday night at Raley Field. While Round Rock jumped out early, it was all River Cats from the sixth inning on as Sacramento scored seven unanswered runs on their way to the series sweep and ninth straight win.

Trailing 4-2 in the bottom of the sixth, the River Cats took advantage of four hits, a walk, and a Round Rock error to score five times. Joaquin Arias and Brandon Hicks both doubled in the inning and Kevin Frandsen had a big bases-loaded single to drive in two. Frandsen came into tonight’s game hitting .312 with runners in scoring position and added to that number with his two-run single.

Overall, the River Cats were 4-for-8 in the win with runners in scoring position. The team has struggled most of the season in such situations, but are 34-for-111 (.306) with runners in scoring position as a team over their last ten games.

Sacramento continued to add on in the seventh inning with back-to-back, two-out home runs by Jarrett Parker and Mac Williamson. For Parker, the home run was his 18th of the season and for Williamson, it was his fourth with the River Cats and second in as many days. It was also the fourth time this season the River Cats have gone back-to-back.

Parker was 3-for-4 with a double, home run, two RBI, and two runs scored on the night. Williamson, who went 2-for-2 with a career-high six RBI in last night’s win, was 1-for-4 with a home run and two runs scored tonight.

The win gives Sacramento their first series sweep at home and third of the season. The River Cats swept the Oklahoma City Dodgers in OKC from 6/2 through 6/6 and just swept the Tacoma Rainiers in Tacoma in their last series (8/11-14).

The win is also the ninth in a row for the River Cats, who are now just one win shy of matching the Sacramento franchise record. The River Cats have won 10 straight three times in their history, with the most recent taking place from August 26 through September 4 of the 2013 season.

Sacramento will kick off the first of a four-game set against the New Orleans Zephyrs tomorrow night right here at Raley Field. The River Cats trail the Zephyrs 33-35 in the all-time series, but New Orleans entered their game Tuesday night having lost their last nine straight. Taking the mound for the River Cats will be righty Tommy Hanson (1-5, 7.71) to face New Orleans’ right-hander Ivan Pineyro (0-1, 6.75). First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. and the game can be heard live online at rivercats.com and on the air on ESPN 1320.

Game Recap Courtesy of the Sacramento River Cats Media Relations

Oakland Raiders Sign WR Devon Wylie

ALAMEDA, Calif. – The Oakland Raiders have signed free agent WR Devon Wylie, the club announced Tuesday.

Wylie was originally drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the fourth round (107th overall) of the 2012 NFL Draft. He appeared in six games during his rookie campaign, recording six receptions for 53 yards. In 2013, he played in two games with the Tennessee Titans, handling kick and punt return duties. Last season, he spent time on the practice squads of the San Francisco 49ers and St. Louis Rams. For his career, Wylie has played in eight games and totaled six catches for 63 yards, 14 kickoff returns for 285 yards (20.4 avg.) and seven punt returns for 30 yards (4.3 avg.).

Wylie played collegiately at Fresno State, appearing in 44 games and totaling 98 receptions for 1,327 yards and eight touchdowns. He added 41 punt returns for 553 yards and two touchdowns. The 5-foot-9, 185 pounder is a native of Roseville, Calif., and attended Granite Bay High School.

To make room on the roster, the Raiders have waived WR Austin Willis.

Player Signing Courtesy of the Oakland Raiders Media Relations

Title Changes For Sacramento Republic FC Football Personnel

Republic FC Head Coach Paul Buckle will assume technical director, Graham Smith to become director of football.

SACRAMENTO, Calif.  – Sacramento Republic FC has announced that Head Coach Paul Buckle will add the title and duties of club technical director. Graham Smith, the club’s current technical director will assume the new title of director of football. Assistant Coach Chris Malenab will take up a new role with the first team and academy as a video analyst. In addition to his role as video analyst, Malenab will lead the curriculum for Republic FC camps and clinics. The position changes will take place immediately.

“At this critical point of Republic FC’s maturation it is imperative that we give the title of head coach and technical director to Paul because of his vast experience not only as a head coach, but because of his extensive experience as a coaching educator,” said Republic FC President and Co-Founder Warren Smith. “This multifaceted responsibility will enable the Republic FC Academy staff to benefit in every way from his knowledge and coaching philosophy. His ability to form the bridge between the first team and youth is undoubted.”

Buckle was hired by the club following the departure of Preki, the club’s first head coach. He has since led Republic FC to a victory over Premier League side Sunderland AFC and won his first USL match 2-0 over Seattle Sounders FC 2. Buckle began his coaching career at the renowned Exeter City FC Academy before being appointed by Alex Inglethorpe (currently Liverpool FC academy director) as assistant manager for City’s first team. The second division English club’s academy is known for several high-profile signings, including, most recently, Matt Grimes to Swansea City for £1.75 million. In addition to his extensive managerial career in England, Buckle also led the Metropolitan Oval Academy in New York as technical director. Buckle’s extensive experience at all levels of the sport will apply in his new title as he will now oversee all first team roster changes, academy development and call-ups.

Smith was named the club’s first technical director in May 2013. The club’s on-field success is due in large part to Smith’s hiring of Republic FC coaching staff and signing of veteran MLS players Rodrigo Lopez and Justin Braun. Smith will continue many of his current responsibilities as director of football, including overseeing football personnel.

Malenab joined Republic FC as an assistant coach prior to the club’s first season. Malenab will transition to the video analyst position in which he will break down film of Republic FC matches and practices as well as prepare film studies of opponents. In addition to his video analyst role, Malenab will work to enhance Republic FC Camps and Clinics, presented by Raley’s, through the development of curriculum, implementation of club philosophies and creation of environments that allow local youth to have first team experiences.

Press Release Courtesy of the Sacramento Republic FC Media Relations

Sacramento River Cats Unveil Schedule for 2016 Season

Home Opener Set for April 15, Features 25 Fireworks Shows

WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. – While the 2015 season is still going strong, the Sacramento River Cats and Minor League Baseball are already turning an eye toward 2016. As the first step in preparing for next year, the River Cats are excited to unveil their 2016 home schedule.

The River Cats start the season on the road April 7 – 14 before returning to Raley Field for the home opener on Friday, April 15 as the team hosts the Salt Lake Bees (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) for a four-game series).

The River Cats will play on multiple holidays again next season, including Mother’s Day (5/8), Memorial Day (5/30), Father’s Day (6/19), the third of July, and Labor Day (9/5).

The schedule boasts 35 weekend dates – the most since the 2011 season. Every Friday and Saturday night will feature fireworks, including three shows in a row the Friday – Sunday of Independence Day Weekend.

Sacramento’s 2016 schedule features a 12-game homestand from Monday, June 13 through Friday, June 24. During that time, the River Cats will host the Fresno Grizzles, El Paso Chihuahuas, and Tacoma Rainiers.

While game times have not yet been announced, next season’s schedule will include 13 home day games and one scheduled home double-header. The double-header is set for Sunday, July 24 against El Paso.

The 2016 All-Star break will again take place in the second full week of July from Monday, July 11 – 13 in Charlotte, North Carolina at BB&T Ballpark, home of the Charlotte Knights. The final game of the regular season will be Monday, September 5th at home against the Grizzlies.

Press Release Courtesy of the Sacramento River Cats Media Relations

Blach Derails Round Rock, Throws Complete Game Shutout

WEST SACRAMENTO, CA. – The Sacramento River Cats had a number of headliners Monday night at Raley Field, but none of them were more impressive than the performance by Ty Blach. The young left-hander tossed a complete game, three-hit shutout for the River Cats as Sacramento rolled through Round Rock Express to their eighth straight win. On the other side of the ball, Mac Williamson led the offense in an 11-run outburst with a career night at the plate.

Blach (11-10, 4.26) was masterful, allowing just three hits and two walks while striking out six en route to his first career nine-inning complete game shutout. He threw 117 pitches in the effort, 78 of them for strikes, and all of those pitches were working. Blach kept the ball consistently on the edges and kept Round Rock off balance all night by mixing his pitches.

“The big thing for me was mostly just mixing, you know. Taking advice from (pitching coach) Dwight and working in my breaking balls more,” he said after the game. “Being able to execute those and keep the hitter off balance more. Trevor did an awesome job calling pitches back there today, too, again just keeping those guys off balance all night.”

Blach has now made 24 starts and thrown a PCL-high 147.2 innings this season. He has gone at least six innings in 17 of those 24 starts and allowed one earned run or less in six.

No complete game shutout is without its fair share of excellent defensive plays, and Blach was quick to point out the guys behind him.

“The defense played awesome behind me. Noonan and Arias and Franny made some nice plays around the infield, Fordy made some really nice catches out there in center. It’s easy to pitch when you’ve got that going behind you.”

On a night where the River Cats pitching and defense were on point, the offense came along, too, exploding for 11 runs on 15 hits and setting a new season-high for runs scored at home this year. All nine River Cats starters recorded a hit, with five recording more than one. Six of the nine starters also scored at least one run.

Leading the way was outfielder Mac Williamson, who reached base five times in the 11-0 rout. The powerful right-hander went 2-for-2 with a career-high six RBI. He roped a two-run double in the third inning and absolutely crushed a grand slam home run in the sixth. He also drew two walks, was hit by a pitch, and scored four runs.

The River Cats will go for the sweep tomorrow night behind right-hander Chris Stratton (3-4, 3.62). Opposite him will be Round Rock’s right-hander Nick Martinez (0-0, 4.50). First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. and the game can be heard live online at rivercats.com and on the air on ESPN 1320.

Game Recap Courtesy of the Sacramento River Cats Media Relations

AFL Announces All-Arena Defensive Team

Photos by Shawn Jonas

LAS VEGAS – Eighteen players earned 2015 First and Second Team All-Arena Defense honors, the AFL Office announced today.

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Headlining the First Team All-Arena squad at defensive end were Joe Sykes, who set new single-season AFL records with 18.5 sacks and 10 forced fumbles as a member of the Jacksonville Sharks, and James Ruffin, who logged double-digit sacks (11) for the second consecutive year with the Spokane Shock. San Jose SaberCats nose guard Jason Stewart earned First Team recognition as well after leading all AFL middle men with 10 sacks on the season.

First Team All-Arena Mac linebacker honors went to Tyre Glasper of the Arizona Rattlers, who finished his 2015 campaign with a franchise record 11.5 sacks, while the First Team Jack linebacker was Alvin Ray Jackson of the Jacksonville Sharks, who led all Jacks with 11 takeaways on the year.

Jeremy Kellem of the Arizona Rattlers, James Romain of the Philadelphia Soul and Greg Reid of the Jacksonville Sharks were selected First Team All-Arena defensive backs. Kellem led the League with 14 interceptions, while Romain tallied a career-high 10 picks on the year. Reid led all AFL rookies with nine interceptions and 21 pass breakups. Portland Thunder wide receiver Duane Brooks also earned First Team All-Arena honors as a kick return specialist. Brooks led the League with 1,994 kickoff return yards and an AFL record eight kickoff return touchdowns in 2015.

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Nine more players earned Second Team honors, including: defensive ends Mike McAdoo of the Arizona Rattlers and Bryan Robinson of the Philadelphia Soul; Cleveland Gladiators nose guard Willie McGinnis; San Jose SaberCats Mac linebacker Francis Maka; Orlando Predators Jack linebacker Terence Moore; defensive backs Ken Fontenette of the San Jose SaberCats, James Harrell of the Tampa Bay Storm and Rayshaun Kizer of the LA KISS; and kick return specialist Brandon Thompkins of the Orlando Predators.

First Team All-Arena Defense
Second Team All-Arena Defense
DE Joe Sykes, Jacksonville
DE James Ruffin, Spokane
NG Jason Stewart, San Jose
MLB Tyre Glasper, Arizona
JLB Alvin Ray Jackson, Jacksonville
DB Jeremy Kellem, Arizona
DB James Romain, Philadelphia
DB Greg Reid, Jacksonville
KR Duane Brooks, Portland
DE Mike McAdoo, Arizona
DE Bryan Robinson, Philadelphia
NG Willie McGinnis, Cleveland
MLB Francis Maka, San Jose
JLB Terence Moore, Orlando
DB Ken Fontenette, San Jose
DB James Harrell, Tampa Bay
DB Rayshaun Kizer, LA
KR Brandon Thompkins, Orlando

Press Release Courtesy of the San Jose SaberCats Media Relations

Lucky Number Seven! Sacramento River Cats’ Win Streak Continues

WEST SACRAMENTO, CA. – The Sacramento River Cats continued to roll, winning their seventh consecutive game Sunday night as they beat the Round Rock Express 3-2. Andrew Susac scored twice in the win and hit the go-ahead home run in the bottom of the eighth.

Susac started the game behind the plate and in the three spot in the lineup in his second River Cats rehab start. A night removed from an 0-for-4 performance, the 25-year-old catcher came through Sunday in a big way for Sacramento. He started a fifth-inning rally with a single to left field, scoring the first River Cats run of the night on Kevin Frandsen’s two-run double.

Three innings later, Susac came to the plate with one out and nobody on and crushed a Roman Mendez fastball to deep left field. The ball landed halfway back along the top of the River Cats clubhouse and put the home club up 3-2 with three outs to go. Overall, Susac was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and a home run. He is now 6-for-22 with a double, two home runs, and four RBI between Sacramento and Advanced-A San Jose on his current rehab assignment.

In addition to Susac, Frandsen provided a big hit in the fifth inning to get Sacramento back in the game. Trailing 2-0, Susac singled to start the inning and was followed by a single from Mac Williamson. With one away, Frandsen smashed a double to the wall in left-center scoring both Susac and Williamson and tying the game at two. Frandsen was 1-for-3 on the night, with the clutch two-run double his lone hit.

Sacramento’s starter Nik Turley (5-6, 4.69) was fantastic on the mound, going seven very strong innings. The southpaw scattered four hits and allowed two runs (one earned) while walking three and striking out three. The seven innings matched his season high, as did his 109 pitches (70 of which were strikes). It was his ninth quality start and the seventh time this season that Turley, just 26, has gone at least six innings while allowing one earned run or less.

Brett Bochy (5-0, 2.79) took over for Turley in the eighth and pitched a perfect inning, striking out one. The right-hander was rewarded for his effort with his second win in as many nights. Behind him, Mike Broadway (1-0, 0.99) came on for the ninth and retired the Express in order. Broadway recorded his 12th save (is now 12 of 12 in save opportunities) and lowered his ERA to 0.99.

The River Cats have now won seven straight, their longest streak of the year and their longest since winning seven straight from May 21 – 27 last season. Sacramento last won eight straight from July 31 – August 8 of the 2013 season.

It’ll be lefty Ty Blach (10-10, 4.48) on the mound tomorrow night for Sacramento. Blach is coming off his team-leading 10th win of the season (T-2nd PCL). Game three will feature a familiar face to River Cats fans, as right-hander Robert Coello (0-0, 0.00) gets the start for Round Rock. Coello was 6-3 with a 3.50 ERA in 11 starts for Sacramento earlier this season. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. and the game can be heard live online at rivercats.com and on the air on ESPN 1320.

Game Recap Courtesy of the Sacramento River Cats Media Relations

Sacramento Wins Sixth Straight with 13th-Inning Walk-Off

WEST SACRAMENTO, CA. – The Sacramento River Cats picked up their sixth straight win in dramatic fashion Saturday night, kicking off their homestand with a 3-2 walk-off win in front of a sold-out crowd at Raley Field. Sacramento and the Round Rock Express traded zeros for seven innings before Trevor Brown broke the 2-2 tie with a walk-off single in the bottom of the 13th inning.

With one down in the 13th, Darren Ford poked a single to centerfield. The hit was his third of the night, and the speedy outfielder reached base four times overall going 3-for-5 with a walk and a run scored. Ford stole second – his second stolen base of the night and 27th of the season – before Brown came to the plate.

Brown entered the game in the top of the tenth, replacing the rehabbing Andrew Susac. Brown lined an 0-1 pitch to right field as Ford raced home from second, scoring easily and giving Sacramento their eighth extra-inning win and seventh walk-off win of 2015.

Susac, in Sacramento on a rehab assignment for a sprained right-thumb, was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts just one night after going 2-for-4 with a home run with the San Jose Giants (Advanced-A). Susac caught nine innings for Sacramento before being replaced by Brown in the 10th.

Round Rock scored first, jumping ahead 1-0 in the fourth on a solo home run off the bat of outfielder Jared Hoying. The River Cats quickly countered, scoring twice on a Jarrett Parker RBI-double and a Kevin Frandsen RBI-single in the bottom half of the inning to take a 2-1 lead. Not to be outdone, Round Rock evened the score at two with a run-scoring single by Beamer Weems in the top of the fifth. The score stayed locked at two until Brown’s run-scoring single sent the River Cats home winners.

Parker started his fifth straight game as the cleanup hitter for Sacramento and continued to have success in the role. Entering tonight’s game, the left-handed slugger was hitting .319 with two home runs, 10 RBI, and 15 stolen bases from the cleanup spot. With two more hits and an RBI, Parker is now hitting .327 (17-for-52) as the number four hitter.

While the River Cats bullpen as a whole was superb, the group was headlined by right-hander Cody Hall. Hall threw three shutout innings, scattering three hits and striking out two. Most impressively, Hall needed just 32 pitches, 26 of which were strikes, to record nine outs. Brett Bochy picked up the win, his fourth of the season.

Game two of the series will get underway tomorrow evening right back at Raley Field. Left-hander Nik Turley (5-6, 5.02) will take the mound for Sacramento as they look to push their win streak to seven. The Round Rock Express have yet to announce a starter. First pitch is set for 5:05 p.m., the first Sunday home five o’clock start of the season. The game can be heard live online at rivercats.com and on the air on ESPN 1320.

Game Recap Courtesy of the Sacramento River Cats Media Relations

San Jose SaberCats Advance With A 55-28 Win Over The Portland Thunder

All photos by Shawn Jonas

SAN JOSE – The San Jose SaberCats (1-0) moved on to the National Conference Championship game, with a 55-28 victory over the Portland Thunder (0-1) on Friday night at the SAP Center.

The tenacious SaberCat defense, which forced 45 turnovers in the regular season struck again, as Jered Perry caught a pass from Kyle Rowley but was stripped by Ken Fontenette and the fumble was recovered by David Hyland. Fontenette, who led the Arena Football League in tackles this season (146.5), finished with 9.5 tackles and an interception.

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Capitalizing on the turnover, San Jose scored on a four-yard touchdown pass from Erik Meyer to Maurice Purify, getting on the board first with an early, 7-0 lead. With fourth down stops by each team, Portland regained possession in the second quarter, evening the score at 7-7, behind a 33-yard pass from Rowley to Jamar Howard. Howard led the Thunder with eight receptions for 87 yards and two touchdowns.

The SaberCats immediately regained the lead at 14-7, when Meyer threw a beautiful touch pass to the back corner of the end zone for the veteran Ben Nelson, who hauled in the pass as he crashed into the boards for the 22-yard touchdown reception. Meyer completed 20-of-36 for 215 yards and six total touchdowns.

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For the third consecutive game, David Hyland had an interception, this time reading the eyes of Rowley as he roamed the middle of the defense. The turnover set up the SaberCats with ample field position to capitalize, with a four-yard touchdown reception by Reggie Gray, as the lead swelled to 21-7. The SaberCats would end the first half with another touchdown reception by Gray, this time for 16-yards, propelling San Jose to a 28-7 halftime lead over Portland.

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Opening the second half, Nelson would add another touchdown as San Jose stretched its lead to 35-7. But Thunder struck when Duane Brooks, the AFL leader with eight kickoffs returned for a touchdown in the regular season, broke away for a 54-yard score, cutting the SaberCats lead, 35-14. Portland’s defense would hold the SaberCats on fourth down, regaining possession within the
SaberCats’ five yard line. Looking to score on fourth down, Rowley was sacked by Francis Maka, the team’s leader in sacks this season (11).

Fighting to extend its season, the Thunder would force a fumble from a Rich Ranglin screen pass, converting with a two-yard pass from Rowley to Howard to bring Portland with reach at 35-21. Just as the Thunder drew within striking distance, Gray returned the kickoff for a 57-yard touchdown, extending the SaberCats lead to 41-21 as the third quarter came to an end. Gray, AFL regular season leader in receptions and touchdowns, had four receptions for 36 yards and three total touchdowns.

Scoring six total touchdowns last week against the LA KISS in the regular season finale, Purify put on an encore performance, leading the SaberCats with 81 yards on seven receptions.

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Meyer opened the fourth with a nine-yard scamper to pay dirt, and with less than a minute remaining Odie Armstrong added another touchdown on the ground, putting the finishing touches on the victory.

Up next for the SaberCats is a second consecutive trip to the National Conference Championship, facing the winner of the Arizona Rattlers and Spokane Shock game. The National Conference Championship game will be played at the Stockton Arena on Saturday, August 22.

Game Recap Courtesy of the San Jose SaberCats Media Relations

Sacramento Republic FC Ties Colorado Springs Switchbacks 3-3

Colorado Springs, CO. – After an hour and twenty minute lightning delay, Republic FC wasted no time in making a strong offensive statement, taking the lead in just the 2nd minute. Midfielder Danny Barrera sends ball from the right side across the top of the box to Thomas Stewart who took a strong left-footed strike past a diving Devala Gorrick and into the upper left corner of the goal, putting Republic FC ahead 1-0.

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Switchbacks FC answered back quickly after Republic FC defender Nemanja Vuković was given a yellow card for a handball in the box in the 19th minute. Switchbacks FC midfielder Luke Vercollone stepped up to the penalty spot in the 21st minute and sent a hard shot into the upper right corner of the goal and past Patrick McLain, who dove left.

Switchbacks FC took the lead in the 38th minute after forward Mike Seth threaded a ball past the offside trap to a streaking Vercollone. The midfielder went one-on-one against McLain and after the keeper dove to his left, slotted home a goal, putting Switchbacks FC ahead 2-1 going into the half.

Republic FC came out attacking in the second half, but it was Switchbacks FC who would strike again in the 78th minute. Vercollone took a strong shot at the top of the box, but had his shot blocked. The rebound bounced perfectly to Chandler Hoffman on the right side of the box. Hoffman then sent a low shot to the left corner of the goal and past a diving McLain, putting Switchbacks FC ahead 3-1.

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Republic FC was not done however, and in the 82nd minute pulled within a goal. Substitute defender Derek Foran protected the ball in the middle of the box before passing the ball to his right to fellow defender Mickey Daly. Daly sent a one-touch rocket past Gorrick. making the score 3-2.

Near the end of regulation time, Switchbacks substitute forward Davy Armstrong was sent off after a hard tackle and the ensuing scuffle. Republic FC, now up a man, took advantage soon after, and a minute into stoppage time an Ivan Mirković long ball into the box found its way into the top right corner of the net, equalizing the score 3-3. The goal was Mirković’s first as a member of Republic FC.

Republic FC goalkeeper McLain recorded nine saves on the night, a franchise USL record. McLain also held the previous record of seven saves, which he recorded against Tulsa Roughnecks FC on June 25.

Republic FC return to action on Saturday, August 22, when they take on Real Monarchs SLC at Bonney Field at 8:00 p.m. The match will be broadcast live on CW31. Tickets are still available on Ticketmaster.com.

Game Recap Courtesy of the Sacramento Republic FC Media Relations