GARY, IN. — The Kansas City T-Bones slugged three home runs, including a pair of two-run shots by second baseman Jake Blackwood, to beat the Gary SouthShore RailCats, 8-3 Friday night at U. S. Steel Yard on the same night the ‘Cats retired late coach Joe Gates’ number 45.
The RailCats collected 11 hits but could not keep Kansas City off the scoreboard, as the T-Bones scored in each of the game’s first three frames and padded their lead on Blackwood’s home runs in the sixth and eighth innings. Kansas City has now hit five home runs in the series from four different players, and hit those homers off four different RailCats pitchers.
Jay Pecci did his best T-Bone impression leading off the fourth when he launched a sky-high homer off Ryan Knippschild (1-0) over the First Midwest Bank Catwalk in left. Pecci’s blast brought the RailCats within 4-1 and was just the 31st home run of the shortstop’s 13-year pro career. The RailCats would get even closer in the fifth when Pecci lobbed a fly ball into shallow center that was just deep enough to score Chris Carrara from third base. Pecci also had a bunt single in the first inning of Friday’s game, finishing his night 2-for-3 with two RBI.
Right-hander Brandon Magee (0-1) started for the RailCats and never found his groove, allowing a Jim Fasano two-out RBI single in the first inning and a long Ryan Fox home run to lead off the second. Kansas City scored twice more in the third against Magee, getting run-scoring singles from Ray Sadler and Brian Joynt. Magee allowed four runs (three earned) on seven hits in four innings in his RailCats debut.
Louis Ott led the RailCats offensively, going 3-for-4 with a double in his first start. Ott, who caught the last three innings Thursday, played at first base in Friday’s game. Pecci and Jeff Beachum each had two hits for the ‘Cats, with Yuki Matsumoto and Cristian Guerrero adding doubles.
Knippschild earned the win for Kansas City, surrendering seven hits but only two runs in five innings. The left-hander struck out five and walked one in the victory. Brett Davis and Kyle Dahman closed out the game with four innings of one-run relief.
The RailCats (0-2) and T-Bones (2-0) continue their four-game series Saturday night at 6 p.m. at U. S. Steel Yard. Former Major Leaguer Brad Halsey (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will make his first RailCats start against Kansas City right-hander Andrew Cruse (0-0, 0.00 ERA). The game will be broadcast live on 89.1 FM, The Lakeshore, and online at www.railcatsbaseball.com.
Saturday night is Fleece Blanket Giveaway Night at The Steel Yard, with the first 1,500 fans getting a free RailCats Fleece Blanket, courtesy Geminus Prevention Services. Gates will open at 5 p.m. Saturday, and only the first 1,500 fans will receive a blanket. Saturday is also County/Mullet Night sponsored by Indiana 105, with the night’s top mullet getting to throw out a ceremonial first pitch and a pregame Mullet Parade. Tickets are available by calling 219.882.2255, visiting the U. S. Steel Yard Box Office or online at www.railcatsbaseball.com.
Notes: In a pregame ceremony, the RailCats retired number 45 on the centerfield fence at U. S. Steel Yard, making Gates the first former RailCat to be so honored. A longtime RailCats coach, Gary native and former White Sox infielder, Gates passed away earlier this year … the RailCats are off to an 0-2 start for the first time since 2002, when the ‘Cats started their first season 0-5 … Pecci hit only two home runs in 2009, and did not hit his first until July 19.