ZION, IL. 7-2-2010 – In the first game ever played at the brand-new home of the Lake County Fielders, it was the Gary SouthShore RailCats who made history, rolling up a franchise-record 23 hits in an 11-4 win over the Fielders Friday evening.
Six different RailCats had at least three hits and the ‘Cats had at least two hits in seven different innings. Zach Rodeghero, the only RailCat without a hit entering the ninth, collected the record-setting single, a two-out ground ball over second that plated the last two RailCats runs. The RailCats broke a team record less than one year old, surpassing the 22 hits the RailCats notched July 12, 2009 in a 16-4 win in Winnipeg.
Despite the history-making offensive output, the game was very much in doubt late after the Fielders scored four seventh inning runs to tie the game at four. The RailCats won the day with a five-run eighth, however, doing their damage against veteran Lake County southpaw Matt Schweitzer (0-1). Louis Ott led off the eighth with a walk, and one out later John Parham hit a popup in foul territory that first baseman Brian McFall overplayed for an error. With new life, Parham singled on the next pitch to move Ott to third, and Todd Dulaney lined a base hit past McFall at first to score the game-winning run. Adam Klein added a two-run double and Mike Massaro and Mike Reese also had run-scoring hits to close out the five-run frame.
The RailCats were in control of the game in the early going, getting countless chances against Lake County starter Ryan Bicondoa but only scoring one run at a time. The ‘Cats scored single runs in the second, third, fourth and sixth, chasing Bicondoa after 6.0 innings having allowed four runs despite 13 hits against him. Mike Rohde had a pair of early doubles – in the second and fourth – that led to runs and Ott scored twice in the early frames.
Willie Glen pitched beautifully through six innings, holding the Fielders to just five hits and posting eight strikeouts. But in the seventh, four of the first five hitters reached on Glen, including an Amos Ramon two-run single to halve the RailCats lead. Aaron Cook (3-1) came out of the bullpen and broke the bats of Joshua Short and McFall, but both were still able to muscle run-scoring base hits to tie the game. With the bases loaded and one out later in the inning, Cook escaped further damage by striking out Jeff Dunbar and getting Anthony Esquer – who had hits in each of his first three at bats – to fly out weakly to end the inning and keep the game tied.
Klein was the only RailCat with four hits, going 4-for-6 with a double and three RBI. Massaro was 3-for-6 with a pair of runs scored, Reese went 3-for-4 with a double and a walk, Ott was 3-for-4 and scored three times, Rohde went 3-for-5 with two doubles and Parham was 3-for-5 to notch his first career three-hit game. Dulaney – signed by the RailCats minutes before Wednesday’s game – was 2-for-5 and made a pair of sparkling defensive plays at second base in his second professional game since the 2005 season.
Esquer went 3-for-4 for the Fielders who had 10 hits of their own, and stranded more runners (11) on base in the game than the RailCats (10). Schweitzer took the loss, going 0.2 innings and allowing five runs (two earned) on five hits.
Glen’s final line was four earned runs on eight hits over 6.1 innings, but the reigning Northern League Pitcher of the Week out-performed his numbers, striking out a season-high eight. Cook, James Baker and Jeff Williams all fired zeros in relief, with Williams facing the last four hitters and striking out three of them.
The RailCats (22-19) head down the road to Schaumburg to start a two-game weekend series with the Flyers (14-26) Saturday night at 6 p.m. The ‘Cats will send Nolan Nicholson (0-1, 7.45 ERA) to make his third start, while Schaumburg will counter with right-hander Brett Harker (1-5, 4.43 ERA). The game, like every RailCats game this season, will be broadcast live on 89.1 FM, The Lakeshore, and online at www.railcatsbaseball.com.
Notes: The Fielders drew 6,823 fans to the game, which was the team’s first in its home city of Zion. The Fielders had started the season playing home games at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin … the RailCats set the single-game hits record despite once again playing without injured offensive stars Tanner Townsend, Cristian Guerrero, Jay Pecci and Chris Carrara … the RailCats previous season-high for hits was 16, set most recently June 16 at Kansas City … the ‘Cats have won five of seven games against the Fielders this year.