GARY, IN. 7-24-2010 – The Gary SouthShore RailCats and Lake County Fielders combined for 10 runs, 28 hits, stranded a combined 29 runners on base and waited out a 26 minute rain delay before the Fielders eked out a 6-4 win over the ‘Cats Saturday night in the second game of a three-game series at U. S. Steel Yard.
In the longest RailCats game of the year – it lasted 3:43 without the ninth inning delay – the two teams traded chances all night in a contest that featured 10 pitchers and 357 total pitches. Each team loaded the bases with no one out in an inning and failed to score, and the RailCats twice had the tying runs on base late in the game, including in the ninth when Chris Homer struck out Louis Ott to finally bring an end to the contest.
The defining moment in the game came in the bottom of the seventh inning, which started harmlessly enough as Garrett Sherrill retired the first two batters. Cristian Guerrero and Tanner Townsend hit back-to-back singled and Ott walked to load the bases with the ‘Cats at the time trailing 6-3. Mike Reese came up next and hit a towering popup straight in the air that Sherrill came closest to but missed as the ball landed behind him. Guerrero scored on the play and Townsend was thrown out at third to end the inning on a controversial call that drew the ire of RailCats Manager Greg Tagert who was ejected arguing the out.
The RailCats would get another chance, however. In the ninth, Homer retired the first two ‘Cats but Guerrero would single and Townsend would walk to bring up Ott as the winning run. Ott battled to a 2-2 count before ultimately being called out on strikes to give Homer his seventh save of the year.
The RailCats scored the game’s first runs in the first inning, with Jay Pecci singling and stealing second base. Guerrero walked to put runners on first and second before Townsend ripped a double down the leftfield line to score both runs and get the ‘Cats on the board off Lake County starter Matt Schweitzer.
Lake County scored single runs in the second, third and fourth innings to take the lead against RailCats starter Tom Thornton (1-7), who lost for the seventh consecutive start. Thornton threw 90 pitches in 4.0 innings, allowing nine hits and two walks but only three runs (two earned), as the Fielders stranded two runners on base in each of Thornton’s four innings.
The Fielders scored the three winning runs in the fifth off Zeb Engle, getting doubles from Kyle Higgins and Anthony Esquer and run-scoring singles from Juan Valdes and Joshua Short. Short went 4-for-5 in the game to pace Lake County, including a towering third inning home run, his 16th of the year. Higgins had three hits for the Fielders, who collected six doubles. Lake County left a franchise-record 18 men on base and sent at least five men to bat in every inning.
Townsend, Guerrero and Reese each had three hits to lead the RailCats, who recorded their highest hit output since July 11. The RailCats stranded 11 runners in the game, seven over the last four innings.
Sherrill (6-1) earned the win in relief for Lake County, going 2.0 innings and allowing one run on three hits. The RailCats used four relievers, closing the game with scoreless work from James Baker, Brad Furnish and Aaron Cook. Furnish had a wild outing, loading the bases in the eighth with no one out before striking out Esquer and Guillermo Martinez, then getting Valdes to pop out and end the frame.
The RailCats (27-31) and Fielders (23-32) bring their three-game series to a close Sunday at 2 p.m. with right-hander Nolan Nicholson (2-2, 5.83 ERA) going for the ‘Cats opposite Lake County veteran Ryan Bicondoa (1-3, 4.72 ERA). The game will be broadcast live on 89.1 FM, The Lakeshore, and online at www.railcatsbaseball.com.
The ‘Cats will be giving away checkbook covers to the first 1,000 fans Sunday courtesy Wayne Hummer Wealth Management, and it’s also the second annual pregame Pancake Breakfast (aka Rascal’s Boisterous Brunchfest). From 11:30 – 1:00, the RailCats will be serving up delicious home-cooked pancakes and hosting a pancake eating contest, and every ticket to the Brunchfest includes admission to the game! To buy tickets, call 219.882.2255 or visit the U. S. Steel Yard Box Office anytime after 10 a.m. Sunday.
Notes: The game was delayed by 26 minutes in the top of the ninth inning … RailCats pitchers threw a combined 201 pitches in the game, including 51 for Engle and 41 for Furnish … Tagert’s ejection was his first of the season … the RailCats loaded the bases with no one out in the sixth inning and failed to score.