JOLIET, IL. 9-4-2010 – The Joliet JackHammers broke open a close game with nine runs in the seventh inning and rolled the Gary SouthShore RailCats for the second night in a row, winning 16-4 Saturday evening at a chilly Silver Cross Field.
Joliet scored in each of the first five innings but the RailCats bats kept them in the game before a 7-4 deficit turned much larger in the seventh. The RailCats allowed season highs in runs, hits (18) and runs in one inning Saturday and the loss dropped the ‘Cats one game behind Joliet in the race for the third seed in the Northern League Playoffs. The RailCats must win each of the next two nights or they will enter the postseason seeded fourth.
The RailCats actually scored first in the game when Tanner Townsend doubled with two outs in the first inning and came in on a Jeff Beachum base hit. That lead was short-lived, however, as Joliet got a run in the bottom of the first, a two-run Chris Colton homer in the second and two more third inning runs off Nolan Nicholson (5-6) before the RailCats offense could get back on track.
Trailing 5-1 in the fourth, Cristian Guerrero, Jay Pecci and Mike Rohde started the inning with back-to-back singles, the last of which drove in a run. Three batters later, Adam Klein had his biggest hit of a four-hit day, a two-run, two-out single that cut the Joliet lead to one.
Things would get no tighter, however, as Joliet just kept scoring with single runs in the fourth and fifth before Nicholson tossed his only scoreless inning of the night in the sixth. The right-hander lost for the third time in four starts, allowing seven earned runs on 10 hits in 6.0 innings.
Cook came on in relief of Nicholson and immediately got into trouble in the seventh, loading the bases on two hits and a walk. Roberto Mena grounded a ball to third that forced the lead runner – Freddie Thon – at home before Cook walked Joe Billick to force in a run and open the floodgates. Starting with Billick’s walk, eight straight JackHammers would reach as Kevin Rios, Brad Correll and Thon all notched two-run doubles. The ‘Hammers scored nine times on eight hits and three walks in the inning, sending 13 runners to the plate.
Fagan allowed four earned runs on nine hits to earn his first win in a JackHammer uniform. The reigning Frontier League Pitcher of the Year, Fagan walked only one and struck out five.
Joliet out-hit the RailCats 18-12, getting hits from eight different starters and at least two hits from six different players. Correll went 3-for-5 with three RBI and Colton was 3-for-4 with three RBI and three runs scored. Klein went 4-for-5 to lead the RailCats attack – his fifth four-hit game of the season – and Townsend, Pecci and Rohde each went 2-for-4. The rest of the RailCats lineup was a combined 2-for-21.
The RailCats (51-47) continue their four-game series in Joliet (52-46) Sunday afternoon at 2:10 p.m. Willie Glen (11-2, 2.39 ERA) is scheduled to start for the ‘Cats with Joliet countering with Devin Anderson (7-4, 4.04 ERA). The game will be broadcast live on 89.1 FM, The Lakeshore, and online at www.railcatsbaseball.com.
Notes: With his four hits Saturday, Klein now has 118 this season, surpassing Mike Massaro (who did not play Saturday) in the race for the RailCats single-season hits record. Both Klein and Massaro (116 hits) have broken Pecci’s single-season team record of 115, set in 2008 … the RailCats have lost nine of their last 14 games and four of five to the JackHammers.