Dustin Crenshaw Guts Goldeyes, Gary RailCats Win 3-0: RailCats Round-Up
When the Gary Southshore RailCats took to the field Friday night they already knew that the Lincoln Saltdogs had won the first game of their double-header earlier in the day. This put them a half-game out, and so a win was imperative if they were going to keep pace. To achieve that they needed someone to step up and deliver a huge night for the team. Starter Dustin Crenshaw understood the need and delivered.
The big right-hander pitched eight innings of scoreless ball, leading his team to victory. For Crenshaw it moved his record to 9-8 on the year and lowered his ERA to 3.16, fourth in the American Association. The RailCats starter allowed just four hits, and won his second start in a row, after dropping his previous four decisions. He looked like he was in playoff form, and was in complete command throughout the game against a potent Winnipeg offense.
Two errors in the first had the righty in a bit of trouble, but he quickly got out of it when Casey Haerther lined into a double play. He gave up his first hit of the game in the bottom of the second, a two-out double by Josh Mazzola and gave up another two out double in the third. Both runners moved no further however, as Crenshaw commanded the strike zone and relied on his defense to make plays for him.
There was time when they failed him, however, as they did in the first inning when they made two errors. In the fourth a two-out error allowed Donnie Webb to reach base, however Crenshaw recovered by getting Mazzola to fly out to end the threat.
In the fifth, the lead-off hitter reached base on single, but a strike out and two ground outs retired the side. In the sixth he retired the Goldeyes in order, striking out the final two batters of the inning. In the seventh, Webb reached on a single to start the inning, but would advance no further as Crenshaw put down the next three hitters, including the final two on just three total pitches. In the eighth the Goldeyes went down 1-2-3 on just eight pitches. It would be his last inning of work.
The right-hander finished with 118 pitches throw, including an amazing 83 of them for strikes. In only one inning did two batters reach base, and that was in the first when two errors allowed Winnipeg to have two runners reach. It was a dominating performance that gained his team a much needed victory.
As Crenshaw was throwing his masterpiece, his teammates plated three to bring the victory home. In the second Josh Romanski singled with one out and moved to third one out later when Ryan Babineau singled. Wally Backman followed with a single of his own to plate Romanski and give the RailCats the 1-0 lead.
In the fifth three straight singles gave Gary a 2-0 lead. Drew Muren singled with one out, and Daniel Pulfer followed with a single that moved Muren to third. Drew Martinez then singled up the middle to score Muren.
In the seventh Martinez would add another insurance run. Muren led off the inning with a double to the wall in center field, and one out later Martinez lined a single to center to increase the lead to 3-0. Muren and Martinez proved to be two of the big hitting stars of the game. Muren finished 3-4 with two runs scored and Martinez was 2-4 with his two RBI singles.
It was a big game for the two, but the night belonged to Crenshaw. He ensured that the early 1-0 lead held, and never allowed the Goldeyes to mount any kind of a rally.
He gave way to closer James Parr to start the ninth inning, but one pitch into his appearance Parr was ejected for some issue related to his glove. That brought Ian Kadish in to relieve. He retired the Goldeyes in order to earn his first save of the season, and close out the shutout.
The RailCats were already aware that they needed a win when they began the game, and Crenshaw made sure that the team kept pace. It is a good thing, because the SaltDogs won the second game of their double-header to maintain a half-game lead over Gary. Lincoln is off tomorrow while the RailCats will play the second game of their series against Winnipeg with the chance to tie the Saltdogs for the division lead.
By Robert Pannier
Senior Baseball Editor
Member of the IBWAA