GARY, IN. 8-20-2010 – Brad Halsey won for the third time in his last five starts and the Gary SouthShore RailCats handed Kyle Wright his first loss in more than two months by toppling the Rockford RiverHawks 5-2 Monday night in the opener of a three-game series at U. S. Steel Yard.
An anticipated pitcher’s duel lived up to its billing as the ex-big leaguer Halsey (6-6) out-dueled Wright (7-3) over seven innings. The RiverHawks scored the game’s first two runs off Halsey, but a persistent RailCats attack slowly wore down the right-hander Wright, who allowed three earned runs in 11 hits in 6.1 innings. Halsey went seven full innings, surrendering just three base hits and two runs to go along with five strikeouts.
Rockford cobbled together a second inning run with Jake Eigsti driving in a run on a groundout, and Eigsti made it 2-0 when he led off the fifth inning with his seventh home run of the year, a line drive off the left field foul pole. That would be all for Rockford on the night, however, as Halsey pitched the game to the eighth where Zeb Engle worked a 1-2-3 inning in front of Andy Shipman, who put the first two runners on in the ninth before striking out a pair to earn his league-leading 19th save.
Louis Ott started the RailCats comeback in the fifth, sending Wright’s first pitch deep over the fence in right-center for his career-high sixth home run of the year. The RailCats sixth also started strong with Mike Massaro and Jay Pecci singling before Cristian Guerrero doubled to left. Massaro scored on the play but Pecci was thrown out at the plate, and Rockford shortstop Jono Brooks kept the game scoreless with a diving catch of a Jeff Beachum liner later in the inning.
The RailCats would finally punch their way in front in the seventh when Mike Valadez doubled with one out in the seventh and scored on a Massaro single despite pulling up lame rounding third base. Valadez would come out of the game after scoring the go-ahead run and his replacement, John Parham, gave the ‘Cats some insurance with a two-out, two-run double in the eighth off John Muller.
The RailCats have won 11 of their last 13 games and three in a row, and have started their season-long nine game homestand with five wins in seven games. The ‘Cats are now a season-best eight games over .500 and remain 3.5 games behind league-leading Fargo-Moorhead and in sole possession of third place in the Northern League with only 16 games remaining in the regular season.
The RailCats out hit Rockford 14-4 and got hits from nine different players, including a 3-for-4 day from Pecci. Massaro, Ott and Mike Rohde all had two hits as seven different starters had hits to go along with late hits from replacements Parham and Chris Carrara. Travis Scott had two of the four RiverHawks hits in the loss.
The RailCats (46-38) and RiverHawks (40-44) continue their three-game series Saturday night at 6 p.m. in a battle of left-handers as Andy Weeks (1-0, 4.05 ERA) will head to the mound for the RailCats opposite Roger Lincoln (5-7, 5.77 ERA). The game will be broadcast live on 89.1 FM, The Lakeshore, and online at www.railcatsbaseball.com.
There’s another great giveaway at U. S. Steel Yard Saturday night, with the first 1,00 kids (age 12 and under) picking up a great RailCats backpack just in time for the start of school thanks to Wayne Hummer Wealth Management. Gates will open at 5 p.m. at great seats are still available by calling 219.882.2255 or stopping by the U. S. Steel Yard Box Office after 10 a.m.
Notes: The 11 hits off Wright marked a season-high allowed, and the ‘Cats are responsible for two of Wright’s three losses this year and each of his last two, including a June 18 loss also at U. S. Steel Yard … Monday’s game was the 11th of the year between the two teams but first since June 20 … Adam Klein notched a first inning single to extend his hitting streak to 10 games … Monday marked the sixth game in the last 12 in which the RailCats had at least 14 hits.