JOLIET, Il. 7-30-2010 – Jay Pecci hit his first RailCats grand slam to cap a seven-run fifth inning as the Gary SouthShore RailCats won for the sixth time in their last eight games with a resounding 12-0 shutout of the Joliet JackHammers Friday night at Silver Cross Field.
The RailCats scored in only two innings but still enjoyed their second straight monster offensive effort against their Chicagoland rivals. The RailCats collected 16 hits Friday – after notching 18 in a 6-1 win Thursday – and once again put the game out of reach early, scoring five times in the third before the seven-run fifth. Starter Brad Halsey (4-5), meanwhile, gave the RailCats their second consecutive scoreless outing from a starter, scattering five hits in 7.0 innings. The JackHammers have just 10 hits in the series.
Pecci’s grand slam was the 15th in RailCats history and first since Steve Haake hit a slam May 30, 2009 at Fargo-Moorhead. The homer brought to a close a massive two-out rally in the fifth, with the ‘Cats scoring six of their seven runs after two outs were recorded.
The fifth started with Joliet’s Devin Anderson (3-3) still in the game, and the RailCats took advantage of a tiring Anderson with Randall Simon driving home Cristian Guerrero on the second pitch of the inning, after Guerrero had doubled on the frame’s first pitch. Tanner Townsend and Mike Rohde singled later in the inning to load the bases before Joliet went to the bullpen.
Kyle Dahman came into the game and struck out Mike Valadez to keep the bases loaded with two outs before walking Adam Klein to force in a run and make it 7-0. Mike Massaro followed Klein with a sharp single to right before Pecci unloaded on a 1-1 pitch, hit a no-doubt home run deep over the right field wall. The home run was Pecci’s third of the year and highlighted his second straight two-hit game.
The RailCats took control of the game in the third with help from the JackHammers defense. Massaro reached on an error with one out before Pecci singled him to second. With Guerrero at the plate facing a 3-2 pitch, he popped up in foul territory for what looked like out number two, but the ball was dropped by Joliet third baseman Brad Correll to keep the at bat alive. One pitch later, Guerrero singled to score Massaro. Simon was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Townsend, who bounced a grounder slowly to the right side. With Anderson late to cover first, JackHammers first baseman Ryan Wehrle threw wildly towards the bag for the third Joliet error of the inning, this one allowing two runs to score. Louis Ott hit a sacrifice fly and Rohde had another RBI hit later in the inning to make it 5-0.
That was plenty for Halsey, who beat the JackHammers for the second time in two tries this year. Halsey gave up five hits and four walks, but got three strikeouts and made every big pitch he needed to. With the game still in doubt, Halsey got out of a first-and-third, no one out jam in the first by getting a double play grounder from Jon Nelson and stranded two more runners in the fourth after back-to-back hits to start the inning.
Guerrero went 4-for-4 to lead the RailCats with Rohde adding three hits of his own. Pecci, Townsend and Ott each had two hits as all nine RailCats starters reached base for the second day in a row. No JackHammers player had more than one hit.
The RailCats (32-32) and JackHammers (33-30) will play the third game of their four-game series Saturday at 7:10 p.m. with an excellent pitching matchup on tap, featuring RailCats ace Willie Glen (7-2, 2.74 ERA) and Joliet’s Bear Bay (5-4, 3.56 ERA). The game will be broadcast live on 89.1 FM, The Lakeshore, and online at www.railcatsbaseball.com.
Notes: The shutout is the RailCats league-leading 7th of the season … the 12-run margin matches the most lopsided win in RailCats history, with Friday marking the fourth time the RailCats have won a game by an even dozen. The last time was July 12, 2009, a 16-4 win in Winnipeg … the RailCats are back to .500 for the first time since July 7 … the RailCats have out-scored Joliet 18-1 and out-hit the JackHammers 34-10 in the first two games of the series … the ‘Cats have won 12 of their last 16 games at Silver Cross Field.