GARY, IN. 8-29-2010 – Joliet needed just eight hits to score eight runs and Bear Bay threw eight sparkling innings to lead the JackHammers to an 8-3 win over the Gary SouthShore RailCats Sunday afternoon in the finale of a three-game series at U. S. Steel Yard.
Joliet won two of three in the series to take over third place in the Northern League standings, one half-game ahead of the RailCats although the teams are tied in the loss column. The defeat for the RailCats was their sixth in the last eight games and marked the third straight series loss for the ‘Cats. The RailCats magic number to clinch a sixth straight playoff berth remains at four following the loss, pending the outcome of tonight’s Kansas City-Rockford game.
Bay (9-5) out-dueled RailCats veteran Brad Halsey (6-7) Sunday, although both pitchers threw the ball well. Halsey gave up only four hits in seven innings but was charged with four earned runs, while the RailCats collected 10 hits against Bay but managed to score just once in eight innings. Bay improved to 2-0 against the RailCats this year with a 0.78 ERA and struck out nine in Sunday’s game to get within one strikeout of league-leader Willie Glen.
Joliet got started scoring right away with Josh Flores doubling off the wall in left to lead off the game. After a sacrifice bunt moved Flores to third, Brad Correll lifted a fly ball to center to make the score 1-0. Halsey would not allow another hit until the fifth – setting down eight in a row at one point – before Flores struck again with a two-out RBI single in that fifth inning. Freddie Thon hit an opposite field home run against Halsey in the sixth and the ‘Hammers scraped out another run in the seventh on a fielder’s choice ground ball.
In total, Halsey gave up the four runs on four hits and did walk five, but Joliet stranded only three runners on base in seven innings against the RailCats starter. Halsey took the loss despite going seven innings for the fifth start in a row and picking up five strikeouts.
The JackHammers blew out to an 8-0 lead on the strength of home runs by Jon Nelson and Chris Colton in the eighth off Jeff Williams before the ‘Cats started on the comeback trail. Cristian Guerrero, Randall Simon and Tanner Townsend strung together three straight two out hits in the eighth to push the first run across and the ‘Cats loaded the bases with no one out in the ninth. But Griffin Bailey would recover to get the final three outs in a row while the ‘Cats scored two cosmetic ninth inning runs.
The RailCats stranded 10 men on base, leaving double-digit runners on for the third straight game, and out-hit Joliet 12-8. Townsend went 4-for-4 to lead all hitters while Colton drove in three runs and scored two others for Joliet.
The RailCats (48-44) start their final home series of the regular season Monday night at 7 p.m. when the Schaumburg Flyers (38-55) come to town. Left-hander Andy Weeks (1-1, 5.66 ERA) will start for the ‘Cats and the game will be broadcast live on 89.1 FM, The Lakeshore, and online at www.railcatsbaseball.com.
Monday night’s contest is the final NIEMI Associates Dollar Monday of the regular season, with great one dollar deals throughout the park. Plus, when fans buy one ticket the second costs just a buck! The RailCats will also give away the official Team Photo of the 2010 team to the first 2,000 fans Monday night, courtesy Hoosier Bat Company. Gates open at 6 p.m. and tickets are available by calling 219.882.2255 or stopping by the Box Office at U. S. Steel Yard.
Notes: The RailCats left 35 runners on base in the three-game series, scoring only 11 runs … the RailCats lost four of six games at U. S. Steel Yard against the ‘Hammers this year but the season series is tied 5-5. The two teams will meet again September 3-6 at Silver Cross Field in the last four games of the regular season … all 12 of the RailCats hits Sunday were singles as were all but three of the RailCats 32 base hits in the series.