GARY, IN. 6-19-2010 – The Gary SouthShore RailCats scored three sixth inning runs and got near-perfect work from their bullpen to comeback and beat the Rockford RiverHawks, 4-3 in the resumption of a suspended game Saturday before giving up five seventh inning runs to drop the nightcap, 8-5 at U. S. Steel Yard.
The RailCats got within three outs of a sweep, but Rockford sent 11 men to the plate in the final inning of game two. The day began with the RiverHawks leading 2-1 in the top of the fourth inning after rain paused the contest Friday night. Rockford added to their lead in the top of the fourth when Jono Brooks took Zeb Engle (3-0) deep for a solo home run, but that would be the only run the RailCats bullpen would allow as Engle, Jeff Williams and Andy Shipman combined to retire the last 13 hitters in a row. Shipman struck out the side on 10 pitches in the ninth for his league-leading ninth save.
The RailCats plated the winning runs in the sixth against Rockford’s Kyle Wright (2-2), who had been scheduled to start the game Friday but was pulled before the first pitch with impending rain. Adam Klein started the decisive inning by reaching on a dropped third strike, and the ‘Cats loaded the bases on singles from Louis Ott and Mike Massaro. Jeff Beachum drove the first run in with a one-out infield hit, and the tying and winning runs scored on a two-out error by Rockford’s David Cooper, who led a Mike Rohde grounder go between his legs at second base.
In the finale, the RailCats got on the board first with a two-run opening inning, all coming with two outs. Massaro walked and scored when Rich Austin dropped Tanner Townsend’s fly ball in the gap in right-center. Beachum followed with a ringing single to make it 2-0 RailCats.
Jake Eigsti hit a three-run home run in the third to put the RiverHawks ahead, but RailCats starter Tom Thornton breezed through the rest of his night, at one point retiring 10 men in a row. The southpaw allowed the three runs on seven hits in 5.1 IP and struck out four without walking a batter, leaving in the sixth in line for his second win.
The RailCats took the lead in the fourth off starter Justin Knoff when Klein and Ott came up with back-to-back RBI singles. The ‘Cats picked up some insurance in the sixth on a Massaro two-out RBI base hit and carried a 5-3 lead into the seventh.
The final inning started innocently enough, with Evan McArthur reaching on a bunt single and pinch-hitter Cooper getting plunked by an Aaron Cook (1-1) pitch. Kevin House singled to score the first run and Jake Eigsti delivered a base hit to tie the score at five with no one out. House was then thrown out at home plate on a great play by Chris Carrara, who snared a Jason James grounder and threw home, but the go-ahead run scored on a two-base error by Beachum one batter later and Patrick O’Sullivan blew the game open with a two-run double.
The RailCats brought the tying run to home plate in the bottom of the seventh, but Scott Roehl shut the door for his seventh save. Jon Huizinga (3-0) recorded one out and earned the win in relief.
Four RailCats had two hits in the nightcap – Klein, Massaro, Beachum and Rohde – as part of an 11-hit attack, and Ott went 3-for-4 in the first game. Beachum also had two hits in game one to finish the day 4-for-8 with two RBI. Austin had three hits in game two for Rockford.
The RailCats (16-13) and RiverHawks (12-14) wrap up their three-game series Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. at U. S. Steel Yard, with Ryan Zink (1-2, 7.62 ERA) slated to start for the RailCats and Kyle Ruwe (0-4, 5.83 ERA) answering for the RiverHawks. The game will be broadcast live on 89.1 FM, The Lakeshore, and online at www.railcatsbaseball.com.
It’s another The Times Family Sunday at U. S. Steel Yard, with discount coupons available in the Sunday edition of the Northwest Indiana Times. The RailCats will also give away great t-shirts to the first 1,500 kids (age 12 and under), courtesy Strack & Van Til and The Post-Tribune. Tickets are still available by calling 219.882.2255 or by visiting the U. S. Steel Yard Box Office Sunday morning.
Notes: Chris Carrara went hitless in game one to see his hitting streak end at eight games … Ott has 13 hits over the last five games … Shipman is a perfect 9-for-9 in save chances this year … with 11 hits in game two, the RailCats recorded at least 10 hits for the sixth time in the last eight games … Saturday’s seven inning game (3:04) took eight minutes longer to play than the combined length of the nine inning game (2:56), minus rain delays.