ZION, IL. 8-8-2010 — Cristian Guerrero homered for the fourth straight game, Brad Halsey struck out a career-high 12 and the Gary SouthShore RailCats scored in six consecutive innings to roll to their third straight victory, taking down the Lake County Fielders 11-1 Sunday afternoon.
The win pushed the RailCats over .500 for the first time since July 6 and kept the ‘Cats no more than one game back of both Winnipeg and Joliet for third place. With the league down to its final month and the standings continuing to tighten, the fifth-place RailCats could now be as little as six games out of first place thanks to Sunday’s win.
After back-to-back last at bat comebacks the last two nights, the ‘Cats left little doubt about the outcome Sunday, scoring in every inning between the third and eighth to open a double-digit lead. The RailCats cranked out 19 hits in the game and hit a pair of home runs – Guerrero and Mike Massaro – in support of Halsey (5-6), who delivered his best performance of the year.
With the RailCats bullpen worn thin following two extra-inning contests, Halsey twirled his sixth career complete game in a near-perfect start. The only run the Fielders scored came across in the sixth thanks to two RailCats errors, and Halsey allowed only four hits in the win. Not much of a strikeout pitcher in his career, Halsey had it working Sunday with his 12 strikeouts surpassing his only other career double-digit strikeout effort, a 10 whiff game April 28, 2003 as a member of the Tampa Yankees (A).
The RailCats got on the board in the third when Massaro hit his second home run of the week, a two-run shot over the wall in right off Lake County starter Ryan Bicondoa (2-6). The homer was Massaro’s third of the year and just the eighth of his career. The ‘Cats added three two-out runs in the fourth, getting a two-run single from Adam Klein followed by a Massaro RBI hit.
After plating a couple more runs in the fifth, Guerrero blasted a solo home run in the sixth to become just the second RailCats player to ever hit home runs in four straight games. His teammate, Mike Reese, is the only other RailCat to do it, accomplishing the feat July 29 – August 1, 2008. Guerrero now has 15 home runs on the season, one shy of his own single-season franchise record, also set in 2008.
The RailCats would score twice more in the seventh to chase Bicondoa, who allowed 10 earned runs on 16 hits in 6.2 innings while throwing a whopping 140 pitches. The ‘Cats tacked on another run in the eighth against reliever Micah Spencer to round out the scoring.
Seven different RailCats had at least two hits in the game, led by three hits and four RBI from Massaro. Louis Ott also had three hits, driving in two, and Klein picked up a couple more RBI to give him six in the last two games and a team-leading 41 on the season. No Fielders hitter had more than one of their four base hits.
The RailCats (37-36) will head over the border to start a four-game series with the Winnipeg Goldeyes (37-35) Monday night at 7 p.m. The ‘Cats have not announced a starter for Monday’s game to oppose Winnipeg right-hander Ace Walker (5-4, 4.09 ERA). The game will be broadcast live on 89.1 FM, The Lakeshore, and online at www.railcatsbaseball.com.
Notes: Halsey’s complete game was just the second thrown by a RailCats pitcher this year … Randall Simon went 3-for-5 in the game with a pair of doubles and made several excellent defensive plays at first base … the RailCats 19 hits marked the second-highest output by the ‘Cats in this season behind only a club-record 23 hits set July 2, also at Lake County.