After seeing their pitching staff take a bit of a beating in St. Paul earlier in the week, and then dropping the first game of their series at home against Gary, the Goldeyes got an outstanding outing out of Ethan Hollingsworth in downing the RailCats 4-1. The loss dealt a crushing blow to the Gary Southshore RailCats playoff hopes as they fall a game behind Lincoln with just two games left to play. With the Saltdogs holding the tie-breaker, this actually puts Lincoln’s magic number at one. That means Gary must now win both of their remaining games and Lincoln must lose both for the RailCats to advance to the post-season.
The loss was a devastating one tonight for the RailCats, but it had to bring a sense of relief in Winnipeg as Hollingsworth dominated the game for all 7-plus innings he pitched. The 6-2, 200 pound right-hander came right at the Gary hitters, working both sides of the plate and not showing any fear of going right at hitters. While catcher Luis Alen called a masterful game, it was the Winnipeg starter who implemented that plan, and earned the victory, his eighth of the season against one loss.
Hollingsworth came out on fire from the very first pitch, retiring the first 11 batters he faced before Zac Mitchell finally singled with two outs in the fourth inning. The big right-hander was in quite a rhythm, as it took him 12 pitches in each of the first five innings to retire the side. It was not until the sixth inning that he needed 13 pitches to retire the RailCats, and that was still a 1-2-3 inning.
In the eighth Hollingsworth may have worn down a little. On a 2-2 pitch he gave up a single to Ryan Babineau, and Wally Backman followed with a single after working the count full. Brendan Lafferty relieved and after giving up a single that scored Babineau, he got Daniel Pulfer to hit into a double-play and Drew Martinez to ground out to end the threat.
While Hollingsworth was dominating on the mound, his teammates were taking care of business at the plate. The Goldeyes took at 2-0 lead in the second when Josh Mazzola hit his 15th home run of the season. Mazzola has been on quite the tear lately, homering in three of his last four games, scoring three runs and driving in nine during that span.
In the fifth, Winnipeg plated two more. Brock Bond singled with one out and Jake Blackwood followed with a double, sending Bond to third. Tyler Kuhn then hit a sacrifice fly scoring Bond and making the score 3-0. For Kuhn it was his 53rd RBI of the year. Casey Haerther then walked and Reggie Abercrombie followed with a single that scored Blackwood. For Abercrombie it was his 71st RBI of the year, ranked seventh in the American Association.
From there it was the Winnipeg pitching staff that did the rest of the work. Hollingsworth gave them seven dominating innings, and Lafferty closed out the last two innings for his sixth save of the season.
The win was the 62nd of the season for Winnipeg, and their seventh in the last 10 games. The Goldeyes pitching staff has shown some cracks in their armor lately as they had yielded 37 runs in their previous six games, but Hollingsworth showed how easily this group of pitchers can return to form and dominate games; not good news for their post-season opponents.
By Robert Pannier
Senior Baseball Editor
Member of the IBWAA