JOLIET, IL. 9-6-2010 – The Joliet JackHammers hit four home runs and pulled away early for an 11-0 win over the Gary SouthShore RailCats Monday night at Silver Cross Field in the regular season finale for both teams. The RailCats will enter the Northern League Playoffs seeded fourth and matched up with the defending champion Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks in the Semifinals.
With their playoff seeding up in the air entering Monday, the RailCats coughed up four runs in the first two innings as Joliet settled things early to earn the third seed and a first round matchup against the Kansas City T-Bones. The ‘Hammers got home runs from Jon Nelson, Kevin Rios, Brad Correll and Josh Flores to extend their lead against four RailCats pitchers.
The RailCats best-of-five series with the RedHawks will start Wednesday night at 7:02 p.m. at Newman Outdoor Field in Fargo and game two will be on the road as well, a 2 p.m. matinee Thursday. One way or another, the series will end at U. S. Steel Yard with the RailCats hosting game three Friday, September 10 at 7 p.m., game four (if necessary) Saturday at 6 p.m. and game five (if necessary) Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets to see every RailCats home playoff game are on sale now online at www.railcatsbaseball.com or by calling 219.882.2255 after 10 a.m. Tuesday.
Jeremy Hauer (0-3) made his first RailCats start and struggled from the outset, allowing a two-run Nelson homer in the first and two more runs in the second. Rios hit his longball – a three-run blast in the fourth – to extend the lead to 7-0 against Hauer. In all, the former RedHawk allowed seven runs on 10 hits and four walks in 4.0 innings of work.
Andy Weeks relieved Hauer in the fifth and pitched well over two innings with the exception of a solo Correll home run in the sixth. Brad Furnish worked a scoreless seventh before Louis Ott was brought into his third game of the year to pitch and allowed a three-run Flores home run in the eighth.
The RailCats had chances to keep Monday’s game close but left 13 runners on base, including two in five of the first six innings. The ‘Cats had just seven hits but drew three walks and were hit by three pitches to continuously put pressure on the ‘Hammers. John Parham had the only two-hit day for the RailCats while Mike Massaro went 1-for-4 to finish the year tied alongside Adam Klein with 119 hits. Those two now share the RailCats single-season hits record.
Rios went 3-for-and drove in four to lead Joliet, which used Todd Privett for four innings to start the game and closed the contest with five innings from winner Rory Shortell (4-9).
The RailCats (52-48) expect to send former Major Leaguer Brad Halsey (7-7, 3.82 ERA) in the playoff opener opposite Fargo-Moorhead lefty Scott Fogleson (8-3, 3.08 ERA) Wednesday night at 7:02 p.m. All the play-by-play action will be carried live on the RailCats Radio Network, 89.1 FM, The Lakeshore, and online at www.railcatsbaseball.com.
Notes: The RailCats and RedHawks will meet for the fourth time in the last six years in the playoffs, but this meeting will be the first in the Semifinals. The two teams met in the 2005, 2006 and 2009 Northern League Championship Series and have combined to win four of the last five league titles … Klein played all nine innings Monday to become the first RailCat to play in every game of a season. Klein started 98 of the RailCats 100 games, also a record.