Gary Southshore RailCats Extend Win Streak to Seven
If a cat has nine lives then the Gary Southshore RailCats next two opponents better be careful, because the club is looking to make it to nine straight wins. Ok, maybe wins don’t equate to lives, but at the way the club is playing they are establishing that the American Association team knows how to play some baseball, and they know how to put runs on the board in bunches.
The matchup with the Ottawa Champions had all the makings of a real slugfest early on. The visiting RailCats got two runs in the top of the first inning against Champions starter Wilmer Font. The right-hander was making his first start of the season, and he struggled through the first few frames. Three straight singles off the bats of Zac Mitchell, Drew Martinez, and J.D. Pulfer plated both Mitchell and Martinez in the first inning giving the RailCats the early 2-0 lead.
In the bottom of the first the Champions came right back against RailCats starter Chris Cummins. Roberto Ramirez led off the inning with a single and came around to score when Sebastien Boucher followed with a triple. Two batters later a sacrifice fly by Francisco Sosa plated Boucher to tie the game.
In the top of the second Gary took the lead again. Walks to Derek Smith and Jon Jones put runners at first and second with two outs. Mitchell doubled to score Smith, but Jones was cut down at the plate on a perfect relay of Boucher to Kyle Brandenburg to Bryce Massanari to end the inning.
In the bottom of the second the Champions grabbed their first lead of the game. Chris Winder walked with one out, and two batters later Ramirez hit his first home run of the season to make it 4-3.
The lead did not last long as the RailCats tied it in the top of the third. Adam Taylor singled with two outs and moved to second on a wild pitch. Michael Schroeder then struck out, but the pitch was dropped and Schroeder made it to first. Taylor made a heads up play and ran all the way from second to score and tie the game.
It was just three innings into the game and the two teams has already combined to score eight runs. That total would double in the fifth, when the Gary Southshore RailCats plated eight more. The first four batters of the inning all reached base. Mitchell singled and Martinez followed with a double that scored Mitchell from first. A hit by pitch to J.D. Pulfer put runners at first and third, and Taylor followed the hit batsman with a single that plated Martinez. Font got Michael Schroeder to pop out for the first out of the inning, but Roger Bernal reached base on an error that scored Pulfer. Derek Smith doubled plating both Taylor and Bernal and Font’s night was over.
The right-hander had gone 4.1 innings, allowed 9 hits and 10 runs, 8 of them earned. Font (0-1) also walked 2 and struck out 2.
Jason Wagoner took over for Ottawa, but the onslaught did not end. Ryan Brockett greeted Wagoner on his first pitch with a single that scored Smith, Jones was hit by a pitch and Mitchell walked to load the bases with one out. A sacrifice fly by Martinez scored Brockett, and Pulfer’s single plated Jones.
In all, the Gary Southshore RailCats scored eight runs on six hits. 13 men came to the plate in the club’s longest inning of the season. More importantly it moved a tie game into a blowout, as the RailCats led 12-4.
Ottawa was not going down without a fight. With Cummins still pitching, Massarani led off with a single and Matt Tenaglia was hit by a pitch to put runners at first and second with no one out. Mike Schwartz came to the plate and on the first pitch offered by the Gary starter he drilled it for a three-run home run to pull the Champions within five.
That would be it for Cummins (2-0). He pitched 5-plus innings in his third start of the season, allowing 7 hits and 7 runs, all earned. He also walked 1 and struck out 4.
In the eighth the Champions got one more run. Tenaglia singled with one out and moved to second on a wild pitch. Two batters later Chris Winder singled to score Tenaglia to make it 12-8.
Ottawa finished with 8 runs off of 9 hits. Ramirez had the biggest bat on the evening, going 2-5 with 2 runs and 2 RBI. Schwartz had 3 RBI from his sixth inning home run, and Boucher and Massanari also had two hits apiece.
The Gary Southshore RailCats got three hits apiece from Mitchell and Martinez. Pulfer added 2 hits and three RBI.
By Robert Pannier