GARY, IN. 8-13-2010 – Behind 0-2 in the count and with two outs in the bottom of the sixth, John Parham turned a 3-2 deficit into a 6-3 lead with his first professional grand slam to lead the Gary SouthShore RailCats to their eighth win in a row, an 8-4 victory over the Lake County Fielders Friday night at U. S. Steel Yard.
Parham’s third professional home run was certainly his most memorable, a long drive off the netting behind the left field fence. The first-year pro out of Cal State-Northridge was starting Friday for just the sixth time since July 7, in part due to a hamstring injury, and was in the middle of a pair of two-out RailCats scoring rallies in the game.
In the sixth, Cristian Guerrero and Randall Simon singled back-to-back with one out to chase starter Ryan Bicondoa (2-7) from the game. Chris Kelly came in and promptly walked Tanner Townsend to load the bases. Next, Mike Rohde grounded a ball softly towards first that Jeff Dunbar threw home to force Guerrero at the plate for the second out, setting up Parham’s heroics. The home run was Parham’s first since June 16 and only the 17th grand slam in RailCats franchise history.
Lake County scored first in the game – the afirst time in six games the RailCats had trailed – when Anthony Esquer scored from third as Kyle Higgins was tied up in a rundown, eventually caught stealing between first and second base. The RailCats came right back to take the lead in the bottom of the inning, however, getting four straight two-out base hits, including RBI singles from Rohde and Chris Carrara.
The Fielders tied the score with an Adam Hale sacrifice fly in the fourth and Hale gave Lake County the lead with a run-scoring single in the sixth off RailCats starter Willie Glen (9-2). Glen went 6.0 innings in his first start since August 4, allowing three earned runs on seven hits. Glen also struck out six to re-take the Northern League strikeout lead with 90 on the season. The win improved Glen to 8-0 in his last 11 starts and gave the right-hander a share of the league wins lead.
In the top of the eighth inning, Lake County made things interesting with an Amos Ramon triple and Joshua Short double cutting the lead to 4-3. After a walk to Brian McFall brought the tying run to the plate, Jeff Williams got Hale to fly out to left before the skies opened and a one hour and forty minute rain delay paused the game. After the delay, Aaron Cook came in and retired Dunbar and Esquer to get out of the eighth inning and Andy Shipman worked a perfect ninth.
The RailCats reached double-digit hits for the sixth game in a row and scored at least seven runs for the sixth straight game, adding two-out insurance tallies in the seventh – a single from Simon – and eighth, on a Mike Massaro base hit. Simon went 3-for-4 to lead the RailCats 12-hit attack, while Ramon and Short each had two of the Fielders nine hits.
The RailCats (42-36) and Fielders (32-45) will face each other once again Saturday night at 6 p.m. at U. S. Steel Yard. Former Major Leaguer Brad Halsey (5-6, 4.06 ERA) will start for the RailCats opposite young Fielders righty Alec Lewis (0-2, 4.75 ERA). The game will be broadcast live on 89.1 FM, The Lakeshore, and online at www.railcatsbaseball.com.
Saturday at the ballpark, the first 1,000 kids – age 12 and under – will get a free RailCats Skateboard featuring All-Stars Shipman and Massaro, courtesy Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard, P.C. Gates will open at 5 p.m. and tickets are still available by calling 219.882.2255 or visiting the U. S. Steel Yard Box Office anytime after 10 a.m. Saturday.
Notes: The RailCats eight-game winning streak is one shy of a franchise-record nine game winning streak the ‘Cats enjoyed July 29 – August 6, 2008 … the RailCats are 11-4 this season against Lake County … Friday’s Parham grand slam was the third hit by the RailCats this year. Jay Pecci hit a grand slam July 30 at Joliet and Townsend hit one – his fifth as a RailCat – two days later, also in Joliet.