GARY, IN. — Mike Rohde ripped a two-out base hit off the warning track in right-center to end the longest game in U. S. Steel Yard history and give the Gary SouthShore RailCats a 3-2 (14 inning) win over the Rockford RiverHawks Tuesday afternoon.
Rohde, hitting for the seventh time in the marathon game, got ahead in the count 2-1 and unloaded on a pitch from Chris Pfalzgraf (0-1), scoring Adam Klein from second base with the winning run. Klein had reached with two outs and the bases empty on a perfect push bunt past drawn in third baseman Jake Eigsti and stole second. After Mike Massaro walked, Rohde delivered the heroics.
The game tied Game Three of the 2007 Northern League Championship game as the longest ever played in the RailCats eight-year-old home. The ‘Cats lost that game, 4-3, to the Calgary Vipers but did go on to win the series in five games. The RailCats have played three longer games on the road in the franchise’s history, including August 31, 2007, when they beat the Kansas City T-Bones, 6-4 in 16 innings, the longest game the team has ever played.
The RailCats appeared to have Tuesday’s game won in the 13th inning when they also started a rally with two outs. Cristian Guerrero walked, Jeff Beachum singled him to second and Tanner Townsend shot a base hit through the middle. But Rockford centerfielder Jason James threw a bullet to home plate to cut down Guerrero and continue the marathon game.
The RailCats needed five pitchers in the game, including winner Aaron Cook (1-0), who gutted his way through two perfect innings just one day after throwing two innings in Monday’s loss to the RiverHawks. Cook not only retired all six hitters he faced, he did so against the meat of the Rockford order, including sluggers Rich Austin, Patrick O’Sullivan and Randall Simon in the top of the 14th.
Right-hander Willie Glen started the game and fired seven excellent innings, allowing just two runs on five hits and picking up four strikeouts. Rockford’s only damage in the game came in the fifth inning, when Kevin House tripled in a pair of runs. Along with Cook, relievers James Baker, Zeb Engle and Andy Shipman helped preserve the tie, with the rookie Engle going 3.2 innings in his third professional game and allowing only one hit.
The RailCats dented the scoreboard first when Townsend launched a monster home run in the bottom of the second inning off Mike Wood. The homer was the team-record 40th of Townsend’s RailCats career and brought home Guerrero, who had walked to lead off the inning. Chris Carrara singled later in the second, and that would be the last RailCats hit until the eighth inning. Wood – a veteran of five major league seasons – went 6.0 solid innings in his second start.
The RailCats out-hit the RiverHawks, 8-7, including a 4-0 hit advantage in extra-innings. Townsend, Klein and House were the only players in the game with two hits.
The RailCats (2-4) and RiverHawks (4-2) move their series to Road Ranger Stadium Wednesday for a 7:05 p.m. game, the ‘Cats first road game of the summer. Right-hander Brandon Magee (0-1, 6.75 ERA) will start for the RailCats against Rockford right-hander Kyle Wright (1-0, 3.00 ERA). Wednesday night’s game will be broadcast live on 89.1 FM, The Lakeshore, and online at www.railcatsbaseball.com.
Notes: The loss snapped Rockford’s four-game winning streak … the RailCats played a 15-inning game in 2008, beating the Winnipeg Goldeyes on July 10 at Canwest Park, 5-3 … the game featured several anomalies, including Massaro – who entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning – making more plate appearances (4-3), than the man he replaced … the RailCats also used relief pitcher Brad Furnish as a pinch-runner in the 12th inning … the crowd of 5,182 was the largest of the year at The Steel Yard, and was comprised mostly of schoolchildren on the team’s second consecutive Kids Day.