LOVES PARK, IL. 6-9-2010 — Cristian Guerrero hit home runs in five consecutive at bats, including a Gary SouthShore RailCats record three in game two as the ‘Cats swept a doubleheader from the Rockford RiverHawks by scores of 9-5 and 15-2 Wednesday night at Road Ranger Stadium.
Guerrero had undoubtedly the best single day ever by a RailCats hitter, finishing the night 5-for-7 with those five home runs, eight RBI, six runs scored and a walk, adding a deep sacrifice fly in his last at bat, a ball that carried to the fence in right center – the deepest part of the park – and kept Guerrero from becoming just the third Northern League hitter ever with four home runs in a game. The Dominican is the first RailCats player ever to go deep three times in one game, and single-handedly doubled the team’s season HR total entering Wednesday’s action.
Guerrero began his onslaught in the fifth inning of game one, leading off the inning with a solo blast that gave the RailCats a 6-0 lead. The home run got more important after Rockford scored five unanswered runs to pull within a run, but Guerrero added the insurance in his next at bat with a long solo home run to deep right-center in the seventh. The RailCats would score three times in that seventh inning and went on to win, 9-5.
In game two, Guerrero got the RailCats started with his third home run in the first inning, a two-run blast to center to make it 2-0. The 29-year-old added another in the third, his first home run to left field on the first pitch he saw from Rockford starter Roger Lincoln (1-2). Guerrero’s magical night was capped in the fifth of game two, when he hit another two-run home run, this time going again to deep right field to make it 6-1 and give Guerrero the five home run day.
Guerrero wasn’t the only RailCats hitter who had the home run stroke going Wednesday, as Jeff Beachum, Mike Rohde and John Parham also went yard. Rohde hit a two-run blast in the seventh inning of game one and Beachum followed with a two-run homer in the last inning of game two. Parham hit a three-run homer to cap a five-run fourth inning for the RailCats in game one, the first longball of his professional career.
The RailCats – who came into Wednesday’s action at or near the bottom of the Northern League in every offensive statistical category – had a monster day at the plate. The ‘Cats smacked 26 hits in the two games to score 24 runs, setting a season-high in runs scored in each game. The ‘Cats had 10 hits in the opener and 16 in game two, just the second and third times all year the team posted double-digit hits. Rohde had four hits in the two games, while Jay Pecci and Tanner Townsend added three hits apiece.
RailCats pitchers were the beneficiaries of all the offense, with Zach McClellan (1-2) rolling to his first RailCats win in the nightcap. The former Colorado Rockies hurler retired the first nine men he faced, and pitched 5.0 innings, surrendering just one earned run on three hits to go along with seven strikeouts. Brad Halsey started game one but could not get out of the fifth inning, turning the game over to the RailCats bullpen, which preserved the win. James Baker (1-1) struck out Patrick O’Sullivan to end the fifth and was credited with the win.
The RailCats (10-9) moved over .500 for the first time all year with their first doubleheader sweep of the season, and will aim for their first series sweep of the season Thursday at 7 p.m. against the RiverHawks (7-11). The series moves to U. S. Steel Yard Thursday night, with Ryan Zink (1-1, 4.67 ERA) making the start opposite Brett Durand (3-0, 3.26). The game will be broadcast live on 89.1 FM, The Lakeshore, and online at www.railcatsbaseball.com.
Notes: Guerrero’s five home runs also moved the slugger into second place on the RailCats career home run list, tying Steve Haake with 33, seven behind Townsend … before Wednesday, no RailCats hitter had more than one home run this season … the RailCats have won four straight games, their longest winning streak of the season … the ‘Cats 26 hits came in the last 11 innings of the doubleheader, after Kyle Ruwe started game one with three no-hit innings … between games of the doubleheader, the RailCats placed Halsey on the disabled list with arm fatigue and activated Mike Reese, who started game two in left.