GARY, IN. 8-15-2010 – Down 9-3 going to the bottom of the ninth inning, the Gary SouthShore RailCats completed the biggest comeback in franchise history with an eight-hit, seven-run rally to shock the Lake County Fielders for an unlikely 10-9 win Sunday afternoon at U. S. Steel Yard.
Chris Carrara started the wild ninth inning rally with a base hit and ended it with the game-winning single to right that scored Mike Rohde from second base. That set off a wild celebration at second base as the RailCats third baseman was mobbed from the dugout and the ‘Cats enjoyed their third win in the last 10 games in which they entered the ninth inning trailing, all coming against Lake County. Coincidentally, the Fielders won Saturday night’s game with a four-run ninth to earn a 6-5 win over the RailCats.
Alex Smith started the ninth inning on the mound for Lake County and Carrara and Adam Klein greeted Smith with back-to-back base hits. Mike Massaro grounded into a fielder’s choice – the only out of the inning – to score the first run. The next seven RailCats would all reach, with Jay Pecci singling to left to score the first run. Cristian Guerrero followed Pecci with an infield base hit to load the bases and Mike Reese drove Massaro in with a single to make it 9-5.
Reese’s single drove Smith from the game and brought Lake County closer Marco Gonzalez (3-2) on, one night after throwing two innings in a Fielders win. Louis Ott doubled to the gap in left-center off Gonzalez to score two more and make it 9-7 before Rohde walked and pinch-hitter Randall Simon cracked a single to right, tying the game. That set the stage for Carrara’s heroics, as he lined a 1-0 pitch in front of rightfielder Juan Valdes who threw high home to allow Rohde to score the winning run.
The RailCats trailed the game 8-0 into the bottom of the seventh inning, and the eight-run deficit overcome ties the largest comeback in franchise history. The ‘Cats were down 9-1 in Winnipeg July 29, 2008 before winning 14-10, a win that started a club record nine-game winning streak.
The RailCats were on an eight-game hitting streak before Saturday’s loss and Sunday’s win bumped the RailCats back to three games ahead of a fourth-place tie, remaining secure in third place in the eight-team Northern League. The ‘Cats win was just their fourth walk-off win of the season at home.
Trailing 8-0 in the seventh, John Parham was hit by a pitch before Carrara walked to put runners at first and second with no one out. Klein followed with a triple deep into right to score Parham and Carrara, and Klein would come home when Guillermo Martinez’s relay throw went into the crowd. The RailCats would only get two more baserunners, however, before the ninth.
Lake County took the early lead on a Zach Larson second inning home run and extended the lead to 5-0 with four unearned runs in the third, helped by a pair of RailCats errors. Kyle Higgins homered in the fourth and Juan Valdes doubled in another run to make it 7-0. Starter Tom Thornton would leave after four, allowing seven runs (three earned) on seven hits.
Three RailCats relievers worked the last five innings, including a scoreless seventh inning from newly signed reliever Chris Chavez. Brad Furnish (3-0) allowed one run and struck out four in two innings to earn the win.
The RailCats had seven hits before the ninth but finished with 15 in the game, from nine different players. Carrara had the only three-hit game, adding a fifth inning double to his two ninth inning hits. Ott went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and he and Klein both drove in two runs. Larson led an 11-hit Lake County attack with three hits and three RBI.
The RailCats (43-37) continue their nine-game homestand Monday night at 7 p.m. when the Schaumburg Flyers (31-48) invade U. S. Steel Yard. LaPorte native Andy Weeks (1-0, 3.32 ERA) will start for the RailCats and the game will be broadcast live on 89.1 FM, The Lakeshore, and online at www.railcatsbaseball.com.
It’s a NIEMI Associates Dollar Monday night at The Steel Yard, where when you buys one ticket the second in just a buck, plus check out $1 deals on merchandise, concessions and more throughout the ballpark. It’s also Elvis Night at College Night, and tickets are still available by calling 219.882.2255 or at the U. S. Steel Yard Box Office. For more information on all the great upcoming promotions at U. S. Steel Yard this summer, visit www.railcatsbaseball.com.
Notes: The RailCats won all five series against the Lake County Fielders this season, going 12-5 … the eight hits in the ninth matched the most in one inning by the ‘Cats this season … the RailCats failed to hit a home run for the first time in 12 games … RailCats Manager Greg Tagert was ejected by home plate umpire Mike Noojin in the top of the sixth inning for arguing balls and strikes.