Ian Gac Proves to Be the Big Dog as Lincoln Saltdogs Down Sioux Falls 4-3: Lincoln Line
On a day that the Gary Southshore RailCats were pounding Sioux City, the Lincoln Saltdogs knew they needed a win to keep pace atop the Central Division of the American Association. The problem was that the Sioux Falls Canaries were not going to be cooperative foes, keeping the game a one-run affair throughout. The Saltdogs needed someone to step up and have a big day for them, and so they turned to their Big Dog, Ian Gac, to do so.
The Lincoln first baseman had a huge day, catapulting his team to victory and keeping them in the hunt for the Central Division title. He was the immovable force the Canaries could not contain on this day, and in the end he was the reason that Lincoln remains on top.
Gac put his team in front right away with a single that scored Matt Forgatch in the first. For Gac it was his 66th RBI of the year, but he was not done.
Sioux Falls would tie the game and eventually take the lead over the next three innings. In the bottom of the second Chris Duffy lead off the inning with a double against Lincoln starter Zach Vance, and one out later scored on a ground out by Chris Valencia to tie the game. In the fourth the Canaries got on top when Brandon Jones led off the inning with his sixth home run of the year. This was troubling news because in the Sioux City, Gary was on top 6-3, and their bats were just getting started.
No cause for too much concern in Lincoln however. In the top of the fifth Chad Mozingo and Luis Nunez each singled to start out the inning, and Forgatch hit into a fielder’s choice, scoring Mozingo and tying the game at two. From that point on it was the Ian Gac Show.
In the seventh both teams got on the board. With one out Nunez singled and stole second base to get into scoring position. Gac then lined a single into left field scoring Nunez, and putting the Saltdogs back in front. The Canaries got it right back in the bottom half however. Chris Valencia walked to lead off the inning against Vance. Two outs later Kevin Dultz singled to move Valencia to second. Steven Tinoco followed with a single. Valencia rounded third and ran for home, scoring ahead of the throw from shortstop Mike Gilmartin, but Tinoco got caught turning the corner at first a little too far and was gunned down to end the inning.
That set up the dramatic ninth inning. Tied at three with two outs, Gac stepped to the plate and launched a 1-2 pitch from Canaries closer Alan DeRatt for his 24th home run of the year. The home made him 3-5 on the day with a run and three RBI. He also raised his average to .348 and solidly placed himself into the MVP race.
With the team leading 4-3, Lincoln turned to star closer Marshall Schuler to close it out. Schuler got the first batters of the inning out before giving up back-to-back singles to put runners at first and second. The closer then delivered an 0-1 pitch that caused Dultz to meekly fly out to left field to end the game. It was Schuler’s 34th save of the year, adding to his American Association record. Jhonny Montoya earned the victory moving his record to 4-2.
The win was a crucial one for the Lincoln Saltdogs, as they remain tied with Gary for first place in the Central Division. Lincoln has one more game left with Sioux Falls tonight where they need another big win to keep the momentum going. No doubt their Big Dog will be ready to come up big for them again.
By Robert Pannier
Senior Baseball Editor
Member of the IBWAA