GARY, IN. 8-21-2010 – Rich Austin hit a second inning grand slam and the Rockford RiverHawks overcame stranding 16 runners on base to hold off the Gary SouthShore RailCats 7-3 Saturday night in front of 5,345 fans at U. S. Steel Yard in the second game of a three-game series.
Rockford jumped ahead on a Jason James run-scoring single in the first and extended their lead to 5-0 in the second. RailCats starter Andy Weeks (1-1) walked Jake Eigsti to start that inning and Eigsti went to second on a bunt base hit from Jono Brooks. After Bud Long bunted the runners to second and third, Weeks walked Victor Buttler to load the bases. That brought up Austin, who lined a Weeks breaking ball over the First Midwest Bank Catwalk in left for a grand slam, Austin’s seventh home run of the year.
The RailCats would keep the pressure on Roger Lincoln (6-7) much of the night and keep the RiverHawks off the scoreboard until the ninth, but the ‘Cats never would get quite over the hump. The RailCats only scored in the fifth, getting on the board when Adam Klein singled in Chris Carrara with one out in the inning. Two batters later, after Jay Pecci walked, Cristian Guerrero doubled deep off the wall in right to score both runners and make it 5-3.
Both teams would have chances throughout the night, with the RiverHawks three times leaving the bases loaded and stranding 16 in total in the game. The RailCats led seven runners on base, but had two runners thrown out on the basepaths and hit into a pair of double plays.
Weeks lost for the first time as a professional in the shortest of his five starts, allowing five earned runs on five walks in 3.2 innings. Weeks gave up seven hits and struck out two. The RailCats bullpen kept the game scoreless into the ninth before the RiverHawks tacked on a pair of insurance runs against Aaron Cook.
Lincoln went 5.0 innings, allowing three earned runs on seven hits. Mike McTamney, Jon Huizinga and Scott Roehl kept the lead safe with four innings of two-hit, scoreless relief.
Rockford out-hit the RailCats 14-9, getting hits from eight different players and six two-hit games. Mike Massaro and Carrara each had two of the RailCats nine hits, and Klein’s fifth inning double extended his season-long hitting streak to 11 games.
The loss snapped the RailCats three-game winning streak and the RiverHawks three-game losing streak, although the RailCats did not lose any ground to league-leading Fargo-Moorhead which also lost Saturday nights. The RailCats maintain sole possession of third place in the league, 3.5 games behind the RedHawks.
The RailCats (46-39) and RiverHawks (41-44) close out their three-game series Sunday at 2 p.m. at U. S. Steel Yard. Right-hander Nolan Nicholson (5-3, 3.70 ERA) will get the start for the RailCats opposite former Major Leaguer Mike Wood (2-6, 5.09 ERA). The game will be broadcast live on 89.1 FM, The Lakeshore, and online at www.railcatsbaseball.com.
It’s another The Times Family Sunday at U. S. Steel Yard with a great discount coupon available in all Sunday editions of the Northwest Indiana Times. Plus, after the game don’t miss a free concert from premier Beatles tribute band American English. The show is free to all fans with tickets to Sunday’s game and will begin approximately one hour after the ballgame’s conclusion. For more information or to get tickets now, visit www.railcatsbaseball.com or call 219.822.2255.
Notes: Louis Ott went 1-for-1 with his team-leading 22nd double and walked three times, matching a RailCats season high … Victor Diaz also walked three times for Rockford as the RailCats staff allowed nine free passes … the RailCats have allowed their opponent to score first in six of their last eight games, winning four of those contests.