TROY, NY − It’s almost becoming a joke to the ValleyCats that whenever they are up to the plate in the ninth inning of a close game, Nate Perry finds a way to get on base.

“It’s unbelievable,” said ValleyCats Manager Ozney Guillen threw a smile Thursday afternoon, a day after Perry once again got a lead off single in the bottom of the ninth to help give the ValleyCats life.

Perry led off Thursday in the bottom of the ninth. With the shift on him, the lefty batter hit a slow dribbler to the opposite side that squirt past the only defender, allowing Perry to reach base safely once again.

“For the first time yesterday I saw him go up and I said, ‘Oh cool, my guy. I think he is going to get on,’” said Guillen. “Then he hits the ball really softly and it gets through and I’m thinking, ‘this is unbelievable.’ It’s cool. He’s worked hard, it’s great to see.”

Guillen continued.

“That’s the thing, it’s getting the opportunities and staying within yourself. If he played like that for nine innings, he’d be unstoppable.”

Perry has a .407 on-base percentage in the ninth inning alone this year. Perry has 23 ninth inning at-bats, eight more than the next person on that list. He is batting .304.

“It’s crazy how I need to count on two hands how many times I have led off the ninth inning,” said Perry. “I don’t know, man. I feel like nothing changes in my approach. Nothing changes with my swing. I’ve had some luck on my side I guess.”

Some memorable highlights from Perry’s ninth inning exploits are a walk off home run on July 9 at Joe Bruno and Korey Lee’s walk off double back on June 22 that forced Perry to leg it out from first to home to score the winning run.

“I needed an oxygen tank after that one,” said Perry. “That one was a good one. Korey hitting that ball deep. I almost choked when I saw Oz waving me home because I wasn’t really expecting that. That was fun man.”

And that is Perry in a nutshell. He is not only a hard worker, he will listen and learn and absorb all the information his coaches give him.

“I haven’t had one problem with Nate since I started working with him and he was one of the first kids I started working with,” said Guillen.

“He’s such an awesome kid to work with. He’s so understanding, nice, he always asks questions, and just always seems to do the right thing. I trust him so much. I have so much trust with him, even in the clubhouse and him being so young, I have more trust with him than some older guys.”

Adding a little boost to Perry’s ninth inning numbers are also when his family is in town.

For his walk off on July 9, Perry’s family was in the stands to celebrate his birthday earlier that week. For Thursday's game, Perry’s grandparents were in town to celebrate his All-Star game selection.

Perry not only got on base in the ninth inning Thursday, he also hit a home run in his first at-bat of the night.

“I had flashbacks to that walk off home run,” said Perry Thursday. “Family is everything.”

“Last time we were in Connecticut he was talking about his grandparents and I face-timed with them,” said Guillen. “It’s cool that for his birthday his family was here and he hit a home run. I got goosebumps. I can see the happiness in his eyes.”

Perry is emerging as the leader at the plate for the ValleyCats, which is something not a whole lot of people expected as the Astro’s used two top ten picks to bring in catchers in the 2019 MLB Draft.

“It’s cool that they are the ones sticking their heads out saying, ‘Hey, we’re here too,’” said Guillen on the success of catchers Perry and Juan Paulino this season. “The way Nate has been hitting the ball this season has been awesome to see.”

Guillen continued.

“The way he is developing and even behind the plate he looks awesome. His patience around everybody and his awareness is really awesome to see.”

Perry leads the ‘Cats in home runs (nine), RBI (25), hits (45), runs scored (25), doubles (nine), total bases (83), slugging percentage (.451), and on base percentage (.362) this season. One of the only returning players from last years NY-Penn Championship roster, Perry is making it known that he still has big league potential.

“He has this focus about him and the zone gets so small for him and it’s awesome because that’s what you see mature players do that,” said Guillen. “It’s so good to see.”

Perry's success hasn't gone unnoticed. On Thursday, he was named to the NY-Penn League All-Star team. Maybe even there, his ninth inning-lead off-magic will not fail him. 

"It's exciting to see all the hard work you've put in since Spring Training pay off," said Perry on his All-Star nomination. "It's icing on the cake."

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