GARY, IN. 8-28-2010 – Cristian Guerrero ripped a line drive single to score Mike Massaro from second base in the bottom of the ninth inning as the Gary SouthShore RailCats snapped their three-game losing streak in style with a 4-3 over the Joliet JackHammers in front of a sellout crowd of 6,288 fans at U. S. Steel Yard Saturday night.
In a game that for the second night in a row featured 20-plus combined runners left on base, the RailCats put the leadoff man on in the ninth when Erik Hamren (0-2) walked Massaro. One batter later, Joliet third baseman Brad Correll came charging in from third with Jay Pecci at bat and showing bunt. At the last moment, Pecci pulled the bunt back and slapped a single past Correll and into left to push runners to first and second. That brought Guerrero to the plate and Griffin Bailey in from the bullpen, and Guerrero lined his second pitch for the winning hit.
The win vaulted the RailCats back over Joliet and into third place by one half game in the Northern League standings and, combined with an earlier Rockford loss, shrunk the RailCats magic number to four to clinch a sixth straight playoff berth. The win was just the RailCats second in their last seven games and was the ‘Cats sixth walk-off win of the season, three of which have come in August.
Willie Glen started for the RailCats and battled throughout, allowing just two earned runs despite seven hits and three walks. Pitching out of trouble all night, Glen allowed leadoff singles in five of his six innings but runs in only the top of the second when Josh Flores doubled in a pair with two outs. Glen lasted 5.2 innings Saturday, his shortest outing since June 16, but left the game with a chance for the win and extended his unbeaten streak to 14 starts.
The RailCats did all of their early scoring in the second, batting around against Joliet starter Rory Shortell. Randall Simon walked to lead off the inning, went to second on a one-out Louis Ott single and scored a Mike Rohde base hit to center. Ott came in one batter later when John Parham flied a double to right and the RailCats took a 3-2 lead later in the inning when Jay Pecci was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
The JackHammers pushed the tying run across in the seventh when Kevin Rios and Correll collected back-to-back singles to start the inning against Chris Chavez. Two batters later, Freddie Thon singled Rios in but Correll was cut down later on a double steal and Chavez struck out Chris Colton to escape the jam.
Andy Shipman (4-2) pitched for the first time since August 20 and worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning – the only perfect frame of the day from a RailCats pitcher – to earn the win. Hamren was charged with the winning run despite striking out three in 1.2 innings. Both bullpens were solid, combing to allow just two runs in 8.1 innings of work.
Joliet out-hit the RailCats 10-7 getting three hits from Thon and two each from Correll and catcher Richard Mercado. The RailCats were more balanced, with Guerrero recording the lone two-hit game. The RailCats stranded 12 in the win one night after leaving a season-high 13 on base while Joliet stranded 11 runners.
The RailCats (48-43) and JackHammers (48-44) close out their three-game series Sunday at 2 p.m. at U. S. Steel Yard. Left-hander Brad Halsey (6-6, 3.94 ERA) will get the call for the ‘Cats with Bear Bay (8-5, 3.38 ERA). The game will be broadcast live on 89.1 FM, The Lakeshore, and on the web at www.railcatsbaseball.com.
Sunday is also the much-anticipated Bobble-Glove Giveaway at U. S. Steel Yard with the first 1,500 fans of all ages picking up a wobbling sequin glove on the same day the RailCats celebrate native son Michael Jackson’s birthday. Tickets for the game are available by calling 219.882.2255 or stopping by the U. S. Steel Yard Box Office after 10 a.m., with gates scheduled to open at The Steel Yard 1 p.m.
Notes: Saturday’s hit was Guerrero’s second walk-off hit of the year following a game-winning home run June 1 vs. Winnipeg … Adam Klein walked three times in the win, the most by a RailCat this year … Saturday’s crowd was the largest of the year and first sellout of the season … the RailCats have won five of nine vs. Joliet with five games remaining between the two.