The Gary Southshore RailCats returned home hoping that the confines of U.S. Steel Yard would help to reinvigorate a team that scored just two runs in the first two contests of the North Division playoffs. That proved to be the case, as the team wrapped out 11 hits in a 5-0 victory over the St. Paul Saints. it would be the pitching of Jeff McKenzie that would be the story on this night, as the left-hander blanked St. Paul on five hits through seven innings in the win.
The Gary Southshore RailCats would grab a run in the bottom of the first against their former teammate. D.K Carey singled against Jake Matthys to start the frame and moved to third when Alex Crosby ripped a ball down the line in right field. Tillman Pugh followed with a base hit into left field, bringing Carey home to give the RailCats a 1-0 lead. The inning could have gotten a lot worse as they were runners at first and second with no one out, but Matthys was able to retire the next three batters without any further damage occurring.
However, in the bottom of the second, Gary Southshore would extend their lead. Randy Santiesteban led off with a double into left field and moved to third on a sacrifice. Cole Fabio then drew a four pitch walk. That brought Carey back to the plate, who laid down a perfect suicide squeeze bunt, bringing Santiesteban home. Carey beat the bunt out for a single, putting runners at first and second with just one out. A fielder’s choice put runners at the corners and Pugh followed with a base hit to score Fabio to give the RailCats a three run lead.
The game stayed 3-0 until the fifth, when the Gary Southshore RailCats would extend their lead to five. Pugh delivered his third hit of the game to start off the inning. Matthys retired the next two batters, but Wilfredo Gimenez delivered a double into left field that moved Pugh to third. Santiesteban followed with a single up the middle, scoring both runners to make it a 5-0 lead.
Jeff McKenzie (1-0) was in complete command of this contest. The left-hander only found himself in any kind of trouble in the third, when he gave up a pair of singles that put two on with one down. However, the left-hander struck out Burt Reynolds before getting Brady Shoemaker to ground out to end the threat. He would come out after seven, allowing 5-hits and walk while striking out 3.
Myles Smith came on in the eighth and retired the Saints in order. Adam Quintana came on in the ninth and retired the first two batters of the inning. That gave the Gary Southshore RailCats pitching staff nine straight retired, but a single by Dante Bichette, Jr. broke the run. However, Quintana would get Justin O’Conner to ground out to end the contest.
Tillman Pugh led the RailCats offense, going 3-4 with a run and 2-RBI. Randy Santiesteban was 2-4 with a run and 2-RBI. Wilfredo Gimenez and D.K. Carey each had 2-hits as well.
The victory kept the St. Paul Saints from winning the series. Game 4 is scheduled for tomorrow evening. Trevor Foss is scheduled to go for the St. Paul Saints. First pitch is at 7:05.
By Robert Pannier