Chase Harris Triple Helps RailCats Prevail in 12, 6-4
The American Association’s best team, at least by record, finds themselves struggling of late, losing their last three ballgames after falling to the Gary Southshore RailCats Wednesday night, 6-4. The RailCats dominated this game early on, leading 4-0 through five, but the Wichita Wingnuts battled back to tie the score before finally falling in the 12th. Chase Harris had the big hit in the extra inning, tripling to drive in a run, and scoring the insurance run to give Gary their second straight win over Wichita.
Jordan Cooper started for the Wingnuts, and the RailCats would plate two runs in the top of the first. Cameron Newell led off the game the triple to the wall in center field, and scored on a groundout by Tyler Sullivan. Next up was Colin Willis, who drilled his sixth home run of the season to extend the lead to two.
In the third, Gary Southshore moved their lead to four. Once again, it was Newell who got things started by drawing a walk to begin the inning. Sullivan attempted to lay down a sacrifice to move him to second, but Cooper made an error that allowed both runners to reach. After Willis grounded out to move both runners into scoring position, Frank Martinez grounded a single into right field that brought both runners home to make it 4-0.
Up by four, Marshall Pautsch was keeping the Wichita bats at bay. He allowed just three singles through the first five innings, and the Wingnuts seemed unable to find the answer that will enable them to get on the board. However, in the sixth, they would finally get through with a run. With one down, Brent Clevlen doubled into left field. That brought T.J. Mittelstaedt to the plate, who went the other way into left-center for a triple that scored Clevlen to cut the deficit to three.
Jake Matthys came on for the RailCats in the seventh, and Wichita put two runs up against him. With one down, Richard Prigatano walked, and Leo Vargas followed by hitting the very first pitch he saw for his fourth home run of the season to pull Wichita within one.
An inning later, the Wingnuts tied the score. With one down, Mittelstaedt came up with an extra-base hit once again, doubling into center. Two batters later, Martin Medina lined a single into center field that scored Mittelstaedt to tie the game.
From there, the two teams’ bullpens kept their opponents off the scoreboard. Ryan Kussmaul was the most effective of all, allowing just one hit in four innings of work, while striking out seven. It was an amazing performance in his first relief appearance of the season.
Jorge De Leon (5-1) looked incredibly impressive for Gary Southshore. He came on with two outs in the eighth, and allowed just one hit over his 3.1-innings of work. That gave the RailCats the opportunity to take the lead in the top of the 12th.
With James Campbell on the mound for Wichita, Ryan Fitzgerald beat out a ground ball to third for a single. He was replaced on the base paths on a fielder’s choice by Andy DeJesus, bringing Chase Harris to the plate. On a 1-0 pitch, he drilled the ball into the corner in right field and raced all the way around for a triple. That allowed DeJesus to score to give the RailCats back the lead. Reggie Wilson followed with a base hit into left field that scored Harris, and Gary was up by two.
In the bottom of the 12th, Jamal Wilson came on. He gave up a two-out double to Harrison Kain, but retired the final out of the inning for his first save of the season. De Leon earned the victory.
Chase Harris was 2-5 with a run and an RBI. Leo Vargas led the Wichita offense, going 2-5 with a run and 2-RBI.
The final game of this three-game set is tomorrow as the Gary Southshore RailCats will go for the sweep. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05.
By Robert Pannier