GARY, IN. 8-27-2010 – The Gary SouthShore RailCats left a season high 13 runners on base and dug themselves an early 6-0 hole as the Joliet JackHammers came into U. S. Steel Yard and knocked off the ‘Cats 9-4 in front of 4,803 fans Friday night.
The loss is the RailCats third straight and fifth in their last six games and saw the ‘Hammers pull a half game ahead of the RailCats in the race for third place in the Northern League. The RailCats and JackHammers will play six more games before the end of the regular season, Monday, September 6. The ‘Cats magic number to clinch a sixth straight playoff berth did shrink to seven with Rockford’s loss Friday to Kansas City.
Joliet jumped all over RailCats starter Nolan Nicholson (5-5) to get in front early. Brad Correll notched the first of his three run-scoring hits in the first to make it 1-0, and Correll picked up another RBI in a three-run second as Joliet opened a 4-0 edge. The JackHammer lead swelled to 6-0 in the fourth in an inning that included a pair of doubles and two run-scoring grounders, and also chased Nicholson from the game.
Nicholson lost for the second straight start by allowing six runs (five earned) on seven hits in 3.1 innings. The rookie right-hander walked two and struck out three. James Baker and Jeff Williams followed Nicholson with 3.2 innings of scoreless relief but the RailCats offense could not get closer than four runs before Aaron Cook allowed three more Joliet tallies in the eighth.
The RailCats hit the ball fairly well against tough left-hander Todd Privett (9-4), putting runners on in every inning against him. In the second and third the RailCats got the first two runners on but failed to score each time. The ‘Cats finally did dent the scoreboard in the fifth when Mike Massaro singled with two outs and Jay Pecci walked. Cristian Guerrero followed with a line drive single to make it 6-1, and a bloop Randall Simon base hit brought home another before Tanner Townsend was called out on a close play at first to end the inning.
The ‘Cats would leave at least one runner on base in every inning and did not score again until the ninth when Louis Ott’s two-out double off William Jackel cut the lead to 9-4. Privett went 6.0 innings in the win, allowing two earned runs on seven hits and three walks. The JackHammers were forced to use three relievers behind Privett including Brian Gartley, who was charged with the ninth inning runs.
Both the RailCats and JackHammers finished with 13 hits, with the ‘Cats getting three from Guerrero and two each from Simon, Townsend, Massaro and Ott. Roberto Mena went 4-for-5 for Joliet and Correll finished 3-for-5 with three RBI. Kevin Rios also drove in three runs in the win.
The RailCats (47-43) and JackHammers (48-43) will rematch Saturday night at 6 p.m. at U. S. Steel Yard. Veteran right-hander Willie Glen (10-2, 2.59 ERA) will start for the RailCats opposite Joliet’s Rory Shortell (3-8, 5.73 ERA) and the game will be broadcast live on 89.1 FM, The Lakeshore, and online at www.railcatsbaseball.com.
The first 1,500 fans of all ages at Saturday’s game will get a free RailCats baseball, courtesy Ford Motor Company. Tickets to the game are still available by calling 219.882.2255 or stopping by the U. S. Steel Yard Box Office after 10 a.m.
Notes: RailCats outfielder Adam Klein was ejected from the dugout after the bottom of the eighth inning by first base umpire Mike Baker. Klein, on appeal to Baker, had been called out on strikes to end the inning … the loss was the RailCats 25th at U. S. Steel Yard this year, guaranteeing the team will not finish with a winning home record for the first time in Manager Greg Tagert’s six-year tenure … the RailCats had previously left 13 on base July 7 of this year vs. Fargo-Moorhead … the loss drops the RailCats out of third place for the first time since August 9.