Cruz, Big Inning Lead RailCats Past Milkmen
by Ryan Zimmerman, Gary SouthShore RailCats
Franklin, WI – The Gary SouthShore RailCats put their bats to work in the early stages and provided nearly all the offense they needed as they brushed the Milwaukee Milkmen aside 6-2.
The ’Cats broke through in the very first inning and capped off the scoring in their final turn at-bat to get the job done and take the series.
Daniel Lingua got things started just two outs into the game on a double to right field, and Michael Cruz followed up with an infield single. On that play, an errant throw to first base allowed Lingua to scamper home to give the RailCats a 1-0 lead.
The bats got going again in the third as a flurry of singles added to their advantage. Tom Walraven and Michael Woodworth led off with two base hits before Lingua’s second hit brought Walraven home. Cruz then singled Woodworth in, and after Jesus Marriaga produced a hit, Alec Olund scored two on an infield single that kicked off the tip of shortstop Mason Davis’ glove to make it 5-0.
However, the Milkmen began to fight back in the middle innings. A pair of one-out singles with a stolen base in between got them on the board in the fourth, and Keon Barnum delivered a solo home run one frame later to pull the Milkmen back within three.
As Milwaukee attempted to generate momentum, RailCats starter John Sheaks kept them at a distance. He permitted just those two runs over the course of his six-inning start, striking out five Milkmen with no walks to supplement his team’s initial offensive outburst.
Upon his departure, the bullpen continued where he left off. Aaron Phillips took over in the seventh and retired five batters in a row following a leadoff single. Josh Vincent entered with two outs in the bottom of the eighth and continued his fine run of form, picking up the final four outs to secure the victory as well as his first professional save.
Before Vincent worked a scoreless ninth, the RailCats added an additional run of support. Cruz punctuated a four-hit day by launching an opposite-field home run over the left-field berm, his third in as many days, concluding Gary SouthShore’s day at the plate with an exclamation point.
The RailCats head back to Franklin Field for the final game of the series tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. as Nick Garcia (4-0, 3.93 ERA) opposes A.J. Jones (3-2, 5.45 ERA). All the action can be found on aabaseball.tv, 95.9 WEFM, and the Gary SouthShore RailCats Broadcast Network through the Mixlr app.