RailCats Rally to Take Series Finale
By Ryan Zimmerman, Gary SouthShore RailCats
Oconomowoc, WI – The Lake Country DockHounds (3-8) threw everything they could at the Gary SouthShore RailCats (8-4) in the series finale at Wisconsin Brewing Company Park, but the RailCats came up clutch in the biggest moments to snatch a 5-3 victory.
As they did in each of the first two games in Oconomowoc, the RailCats benefitted from a multi-run second inning to pull ahead early. LG Castillo and Francisco Del Valle strung together consecutive singles, placing runners on the corners. The next batter, Victor Nova, stepped up and delivered a base hit of his own, scoring Castillo to record the game’s first run. A Thomas Greely groundout brought Del Valle home, racing Gary SouthShore ahead 2-0.
However, the DockHounds answered back immediately with a two-run frame of their own. Harrison Smith hit a two-run home run, his second long ball of the series, to pull Lake Country level at two apiece.
The RailCats regrouped right away in their ensuing turn at bat, restoring their two-run edge. Michael Woodworth roped a single to center field and immediately stole second base, setting Gio Díaz up with a runner in scoring position. He cashed in on the RBI opportunity, roping a single to right field to plate Woodworth and advancing to second base on the throw to the plate. A Conor Fisk balk then advanced him to third, and a few pitches later, a wild pitch chased him in to score, shifting the scoreline back in Gary SouthShore’s favor.
Following a scoreless fourth inning, the RailCats found their way back into the run column in the fifth. Díaz stroked a leadoff double, and though a Jesus Marriaga groundout resulted in the frame’s first out, Díaz broke for third on the throw, forcing an error as the DockHounds tried to catch him advancing, enabling him to trot home.
Unwilling to let the game get out of hand, Lake Country pulled a run back in the bottom of the sixth. Marcus Chiu doubled, giving Smith another chance to come through. The DockHounds’ shortstop rose to the occasion once again as he delivered a two-out single to decrease the RailCats’ advantage to two.
Gary SouthShore turned to their bullpen in the bottom of the seventh on the heels of a Harrison Francis quality start, and Aaron Phillips picked up right where he left off, firing a three-up, three-down inning.
Down to their final six outs, the DockHounds put the pressure on the Gary SouthShore defense, moving the tying run into scoring position with two outs thanks to a Nick Banks automatic double, Chiu hit-by-pitch, and a successful double steal. On the verge of surrendering the lead, reliever DJ Wilkinson bailed the ‘Cats out of trouble, coaxing a weak groundout from pinch hitter Aaron Simmons to alleviate the threat.
Lake Country rallied one last time in the bottom of the ninth, using three walks to load the bases. But, as the winning run stood on first base, closer Matt Leon stopped the DockHounds’ comeback bid in its tracks. He forced a Banks flyout for the final out, sealing the win.
The RailCats return to The Steel Yard at 6:45 p.m. tomorrow as they host the Kane County Cougars in the first game of a three-game weekend series. All the action will be streamed on aabaseball.tv and broadcast over the radio on 95.9 WEFM and the Gary SouthShore RailCats Broadcast Network through the Mixlr app.