Diaz Helps RailCats Out Score Railroaders
By Ryan Zimmerman, Gary SouthShore RailCats
Cleburne, TX – The Cleburne Railroaders (33-33) gave the Gary SouthShore RailCats (28-37) another battle up until the very last pitch, but the RailCats came through in the clutch to secure a 10-7 victory.
In their very first trip to the plate, Gio Díaz got the RailCats off to a flying start. He cranked a solo home run off the scoreboard in left-center field, providing Gary SouthShore an early 1-0 lead.
However, Cleburne produced an immediate answer. The Railroaders stormed for three runs in the bottom half of the frame, turning their early deficit into a two-run advantage.
Playing from behind, Gary SouthShore got right to work offensively and raced back in front. Francisco Del Valle doubled to lead off the top of the second before back-to-back walks from Seth Caddell and Jose Contreras loaded the bases. Victor Nova and Daniel Lingua lifted consecutive sacrifice flies to level the score, and Díaz supplied a sharp single to push the ‘Cats ahead 4-3.
The Railroaders soon mounted another swift comeback themselves, turning the tides to restore their own edge. Two solo home runs in the bottom of the third provided the damage, giving Cleburne another successful comeback, this time to go up 5-4.
Once again, though, Gary SouthShore figured out a quick response. Nova drew a walk and Lingua laced a single, placing runners on the corners. Díaz then stepped up again, delivering a base hit to drive Nova home and tie the score. Two batters later, Jesus Marriaga legged out an infield single, plating Lingua and propelling the ‘Cats back on top. LG Castillo then drew a walk to load the bases, and Del Valle coaxed a base on balls of his own, boosting Gary SouthShore’s lead to 7-5.
Starting pitcher John Sheaks proceeded to strand runners on the corners to close out the frame, gifting momentum to the RailCat lineup en route to another multi-run rally. Contreras started it off by getting hit by a pitch, and he immediately made the Railroaders pay by swiping second base. A Díaz double soon after knocked him in, and Jackson Valera followed up by grooving a two-bagger of his own, extending Gary SouthShore’s lead to four.
From that point forward, pitching took control of the contest. Sheaks, Oddy Nuñez, Aaron Phillips, and Joan Valdez each tossed scoreless frames, preserving Gary SouthShore’s four-run cushion heading into the ninth.
The RailCats fed off the momentum from their relief arms as they manufactured another run in their final turn at bat. Nova walked and Lingua roped a single to kickstart the inning, and a Díaz sacrifice bunt advanced them both into scoring position. Though the Railroaders countered by moving their infield in, a Valera groundout still managed to record an RBI, launching the RailCats into double digits in the run column, ensuring five runs of support needing just three outs to grab the win.
Nevertheless, Cleburne fought down to their final out in the bottom of the ninth. Five straight one-out base runners led to two quick runs, and with the bases loaded, they planted the winning run in the batter’s box.
Facing the contest’s biggest test, Jack Eisenbarger rose to the occasion. He stepped up to record a strikeout and a groundout to close the Railroaders out, securing another dramatic victory.
The RailCats go for their third win tomorrow at 7:06 p.m. as they look for their third win of the series in Cleburne. All the action will be streamed on aabaseball.tv as well as broadcast over the radio on 95.9 WEFM and the Gary SouthShore RailCats Broadcast Network via the Mixlr app.