GARY, IN. 9-1-2010 – Cristian Guerrero hit a three-run first inning homer and Willie Glen made it stand up with eight shutout innings as the Gary SouthShore RailCats beat the Schaumburg Flyers 3-1 Wednesday night at U. S. Steel Yard, shrinking their magic number to clinch a sixth straight playoff berth to one.
One night after hitting his RailCats single-season record 17th home run in his final at bat, Guerrero took Brett Harker deep on a 3-1 pitch in his first at bat Wednesday. After Mike Massaro had singled with one out and a hustling Mike Rohde beat out an infield hit with two down, Guerrero rocketed his 18th homer of the season over the First Midwest Bank Catwalk in left to put the ‘Cats in front 3-0. The home run was also Guerrero’s 45th in his RailCats career, tying Tanner Townsend’s all-time mark.
Those three runs were plenty for Glen (11-2) in just the latest start of a dominating season. The right-hander allowed just five singles in eight scoreless frames to lower his ERA to 2.39, easily the best among all Northern League starting pitchers. Glen struck out a pair to improve his league-best total to 110 and left after throwing 103 pitches. Glen is 10-0 in his last 15 starts and did not allow an earned run for the eighth time in 20 starts this year.
Possibly the Flyers best scoring chance came in the very first inning when Ruddy Yan walked and got around to third with one out on a wild pitch and John Parham throwing error. Moments later, Kit Pellow lifted a fly ball to shallow left and Parham atoned for his earlier miscue by snagging Guerrero’s throw home and diving across the plate to tag out Yan. That double play was the first of three turned by the RailCats defense.
Schaumburg did finally crack the scoreboard in the ninth against RailCats closer Andy Shipman. With runners at second and third and two outs, Chris Schultz singled off Shipman’s glove to drive in one before Jeff Brooks flied out to deep center to end the game. Shipman gave up three hits in the ninth but did pick up his league-leading 20th save of the year.
Each team had eight hits Wednesday as the ‘Cats got two from Chris Carrara – batting in the leadoff spot for the first time all year – and two hits from Mike Rohde – batting cleanup for the first time. Joey Gomes went 3-for-4 to lead the Flyers attack. Harker took the loss despite allowing only two hits in five innings after Guerrero’s home run.
The RailCats can clinch their sixth straight playoff berth Thursday with either a win over the Flyers or a loss from Rockford in one of two games of a doubleheader against Winnipeg. The Goldeyes and RiverHawks were rained out Wednesday night at Road Ranger Stadium.
The RailCats (50-45) and Flyers (39-57) close out the season series Thursday night at 7 p.m. at U. S. Steel Yard. The RailCats will send left-hander Brad Halsey (6-7, 4.01 ERA) to the hill against Flyers southpaw Ryan Gehring (3-10, 4.94 ERA). Thursday’s game will be carried exclusively as an online stream at www.railcatsbaseball.com.
Thursday night is the final RailCats home game of the regular season and as a thank you to the best fans in the Northern League, the RailCats are giving away buy-one, get-one free tickets to all fans. It’s Fan Appreciation Night, after all, and the RailCats will also have innumerable giveaways and prizes for fans, plus a post-game Fireworks Show from First Midwest Bank and the Post-Tribune. Tickets are on sale by calling 219.882.2255 or stopping by the Box Office after 10 a.m.
Notes: The RailCats now have 50 wins, marking the sixth straight year of at least 50 win under sixth-year Manager Greg Tagert … the win also guarantees the RailCats at least a .500 season … Adam Klein did not start Wednesday’s game, snapping a streak of 85 consecutive starts (dating back to May 28). Klein did enter the game in the eighth as a defensive replacement and has played in all 95 RailCats games this year, matching a team record … Schaumburg Manager Mike Busch was ejected in the fifth inning for arguing a balk call.