Early Runs Propel RailCats Past Milkmen
by Ryan Zimmerman, Gary SouthShore RailCats
Franklin, WI – Though the Milwaukee Milkmen put up a valiant fight, the Gary SouthShore RailCats stayed one step ahead of their East Division rivals on their way to an 8-4 win.
The ‘Cats executed in all phases and came up clutch every time they needed to as they closed out a three-game sweep.
Starting in the second inning, the offense began to fire on all cylinders. Sam Abbot and Zach Racusin ripped back-to-back two-out doubles to get the RailCats on the board.
The top of the order set the tempo to kickstart a rally in the top of the third. Tom Walraven and Michael Woodworth led off with consecutive singles, and after Woodworth stole second, Daniel Lingua drove them both in on a ground rule double. Michael Cruz then reached on an error, and following Lingua’s 15th steal of the season, he scored on a ground ball to place the RailCats ahead 4-0.
Once again, Gary SouthShore struck in the fourth inning, this time with two outs. Walraven made it up to second base on a Milkmen error, and Woodworth took full advantage, singling on the very next pitch to extend the RailCats lead to 5-0.
In the bottom of the fourth, though, Milwaukee started to answer back. A leadoff home run got them on the board and canceled out the Gary SouthShore run in the top half of the frame.
A couple of innings later, the Milkmen found themselves on the comeback trail. They cut their deficit down to three on a one-out base hit and a delayed steal of home brought home one more.
The Milkmen reduced the Gary SouthShore edge to one on a line-drive single, but as the run crossed home plate, the RailCats defense sprang into action. Alec Olund unleashed a perfect throw to gun Dylan Kelly down trying to advance to second base and end the inning with their lead intact.
In need of some offense, the RailCats responded in the top of the seventh. Woodworth ripped a one-out ground rule double, but a strikeout to the next batter gave the Milkmen a chance to get out of the inning unscathed. However, Jesus Marriaga knocked another ground rule double over the right-center field wall to provide a vital insurance run.
Down by two runs, the Milkmen re-sparked their lineup in their next turn at-bat. Though the RailCats erased a leadoff walk by turning a double play, a pair of two-out base hits positioned the go-ahead run in the batter’s box.
As the contest hung in the balance, the RailCats turned to Jack Eisenbarger out of the bullpen, and he delivered in the big moment. He fanned Chad Sedio on just four pitches to hold Milwaukee off the scoreboard.
With the momentum at their backs, the RailCats used it to propel them to two runs in the top of the eighth. Abbott led off by lining his second double of the contest, and Racusin advanced him to third on a single. Upon reaching first base, Javeyan Williams took over as a pinch-runner and immediately stole second base. The Milkmen moved their infield in, and Tom Walraven snuck a groundball underneath shortstop Mason Davis’ glove to bring both ‘Cats in.
That was all the support Eisenbarger needed to finish off the final two innings. He carved through the Milkmen lineup and secured the final six outs, securing victory for Gary SouthShore.
The RailCats have a day off tomorrow before returning to The Steel Yard on Tuesday to host the Chicago Dogs for the first game of a three-game series at 6:45 p.m. All the action will be streamed on aabaseball.tv, 95.9 WEFM, and the Gary SouthShore RailCats Broadcast Network through the Mixlr app.