ZION, IL. 8-7-2010 – Down to their final out for the second night in a row, the Gary SouthShore RailCats scored three times in the ninth and added four runs in the tenth to pull off another improbable comeback against the Lake County Fielders, winning 10-6 Saturday night.
Fielders closer Chris Homer – who was a perfect 11-for-11 before blowing the save Friday night – entered in the ninth tasked with protecting a 5-3 lead. After Mike Rohde doubled to lead off the inning, Homer would come back to get the next two hitters, but that’s when the ‘Cats would get started. Pinch-hitter Randall Simon walked on a 3-2 pitch to put runners to first and second and was immediately taken down for pinch-runner James Baker. Chris Carrara followed Simon and lined a single into center to score a run and cut the lead to 5-4.
Still with two outs, Adam Klein came up next with Baker representing the tying run at third. Klein popped up a bunt attempt, but the ball got over the head of Homer and nestled in cleanly in front of second base for a base hit to tie the game. Mike Massaro came up after Klein and singled through the right side to give the RailCats a 6-5 lead before Klein was thrown out at third to end the inning.
The Fielders would tie the game in the bottom of the ninth when Jeff Williams – who worked two innings Friday – allowed a Juan Valdes single and hit Amos Ramon with a pitch. Williams was relieved by Aaron Cook (4-1), who has been battling an illness, and after retiring Joshua Short, Cook induced a broken-bat ground ball back to the mound from Brian McFall. Cook misplayed the ball, however, and it trickled between short and third to bring Valdes around to score from second. Cook would get the next two outs to keep the game tied, and the RailCats did the rest in the tenth.
Chad Lundahl (1-2) started the tenth for the Fielders and was greeted by a Jay Pecci base hit into left. Cristian Guerrero followed Pecci with a double to push runners to second and third with no one out. Pecci would score the winning run on a wild pitch, and after a pair of intentional walks and a strikeout of Cook – forced into the lineup with all the substitutions – Carrara delivered again with a two-out, two-run single. Klein would single in another run later in the inning to provide the final margin.
Cook retired the side in the ninth, ending the game in style with back-to-back strikeouts of Zach Larson and pinch-hitter Adam Hale. The right-hander went 2.0 hitless innings to earn his fourth win.
The RailCats led throughout much of the early part of the game, taking a 3-2 lead into the seventh before Brad Furnish allowed three runs, including the go-ahead runs on a two-run Valdes home run. The ‘Cats had built their early lead with a Guerrero home run in the fourth – his third in as many nights – and a two-run Klein double in the fifth.
Klein went 4-for-6 to pace a 12-hit RailCats attack, with eight of those hits coming in the final two innings. Klein had four RBI in the game, one more than Carrara who set a season-high with three runs driven in. Guerrero and Carrara each had two hits, while Larson went 3-for-5 to pace Lake County.
The RailCats are back to the .500 mark and will have a chance to get over .500 for the first time since July 6 in Sunday’s series finale. After going 0-34 when trailing after eight innings to start the year, the RailCats have won each of the last two games after trailing into the ninth.
The RailCats (36-36) and Fielders (30-41) wrap up their four-game series Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. with Brad Halsey (4-6, 4.52 ERA) making the start for the ‘Cats opposite right-hander Ryan Bicondoa (2-5, 4.62 ERA). The game will be broadcast live on 89.1 FM, The Lakeshore, and online at www.railcatsbaseball.com.
Notes: Cook’s tenth inning at bat was the first of his professional career … the RailCats are now 5-2 in extra-inning games this season … Nolan Nicholson started for the RailCats and allowed just two runs in 6.0 innings … the win closed the RailCats to within one game of fourth place in the Northern League standings.