LOVES PARK, IL. — Four Gary SouthShore RailCats pitchers set down 16 straight batters before the Rockford RiverHawks erupted for eight runs over the final two innings to earn a 10-1 win in a scheduled 10-inning exhibition contest Sunday afternoon at Road Ranger Stadium.
The loss is the RailCats third in as many days to the Northern League’s newest team, and again saw the ‘Cats struggle at the plate, mustering only three hits against four Rockford pitchers. The RailCats did score first in Sunday’s game, however, with Yuki Matsumoto singling home Cristian Guerrero with an unearned run in the second inning. Kyle Ruwe (1-0) started and gave up only Matsumoto’s second inning single in his three innings of work.
Rockford took the lead for good against RailCats starter Brandon Magee (0-1) in the third inning when Kevin House tripled in a run and scored on a Jason James squeeze bunt. Magee was solid in his final spring tune-up, getting a pair of double plays and allowing four hits and two runs in 4.0 innings.
Magee retired the last four hitters he faced and Aaron Cook followed with a perfect fifth inning. Recent acquisition Zeb Engle made his first RailCats appearance in the sixth and was flawless over two frames, setting down all six hitters he faced including three by strikeout. Brian Henschel relieved Engle in the eighth and kept the game 2-1 into the ninth before the wheels came off for the RailCats in the ninth. Rockford scored six times in the bottom of the ninth inning, taking advantage of three RailCats errors and a pair of stolen bases. The RiverHawks added two more in the tenth inning to round out the scoring.
Matsumoto, Jermel Lomack and Louis Ott had the three RailCats hits – all singles – as the team played without regular starters Jay Pecci, Tanner Townsend, Mike Rohde, Mike Massaro and Chris Carrara, all of whom were given a day off. Rockford collected 11 hits, two each from House, Rich Austin and David Cooper.
The RailCats have two remaining exhibition games, both at U. S. Steel Yard. The Lake County Fielders will pay the ‘Cats a visit Monday at 2:30 p.m. and the Schaumburg Flyers will be in town Tuesday at 2 p.m. to wrap up the exhibition season.
The ‘Cats open the 2010 season Thursday, May 20 at 7 p.m. at U. S. Steel Yard against the Kansas City T-Bones. The first 1,500 fans will get free collectable coins Thursday night thanks to Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard, P.C. Following the game, fans are also invited to enjoy a post-game Fireworks Spectacular, sponsored by First Midwest Bank and the Post-Tribune.
Notes: The RailCats acquired Engle Saturday from the River City Rascals of the Frontier League in exchange for outfielder Caleb Curry and a player to be named later. Engle, a left-hander, went 9-0 with a 1.87 ERA in 13 games (nine starts) at Division III Ursinus (Pa.) College as a senior in 2009 and will be making his professional debut this year.