Walraven Homers Twice as RailCats Take Opener
by Ryan Zimmerman, Gary SouthShore RailCats
Cleburne, TX – The Cleburne Railroaders gave the Gary SouthShore RailCats a tough test down the stretch, but the visitors came up clutch in the late stages to pull out a 10-8 series-opening victory.
The RailCats countered every blow the Railroaders could come up with and matched Cleburne’s offense at every turn to keep them at a distance all game long.
It did not take long for Gary SouthShore to kick off the scoring as they got their lineup going in the very first inning. Michael Woodworth ripped a one-out triple, and following a Victor Nova walk, the duo pulled off a delayed steal of home to plate the contest’s first run.
Cleburne fought back immediately in the bottom of that inning and took the lead themselves. Chase Simpson hit a two-out, two-run home run to put the Railroaders up 2-1.
However, their advantage did not last very long, as the RailCats fired back in the top of the second. LG Castillo reached on an error and Tom Walraven singled, setting up Sam Abbott to launch a three-run shot, his 12th home run of the season, placing the RailCats ahead 4-2.
In doing so, Abbott ties RailCats legend Cristian Guerrero for the team’s American Association single-season record.
After both teams exchanged zeros in the third inning, the RailCats used the home run ball once again to add on in the fourth. Walraven drove a leadoff home run over the left field wall, handing Gary SouthShore a three-run advantage.
Though the Railroaders got a run back in the fifth, Walraven restored it in the top of the sixth. His second solo home run canceled out a run-scoring single, restoring the RailCats edge to three at 6-3.
Once again, Cleburne got a run back in the bottom of the sixth as an RBI groundout drew them back within two, but the RailCats responded by tallying two runs of their own in the top of the seventh. Nate Scantlin got hit by a pitch and immediately stole second before Woodworth’s second triple of the game brought him home. Nova delivered a base hit one batter later which scored Woodworth, positioning the ‘Cats in front 8-4.
For the third consecutive frame, the Railroaders cut into their deficit through a seventh-inning sacrifice fly, but Gary SouthShore’s plate discipline set them up for a two-out rally in the top of the eighth. Abbott and Chris Burgess worked tough two-out full count walks, and a misplay on a Jackson Smith hard groundball made it pay off right away. Both base runners came around to score, extending the RailCats lead to 10-5.
Nick Garcia worked around an error to open the bottom of the eighth to fire a scoreless frame to set the RailCats up three outs away from a win, but the Railroaders refused to go down without a fight. Three straight one-out hits produced two runs, leaving runners at the corners and the tying run at the plate, but Yeison Medina came out of the bullpen to save the day. He got the final two outs in succession to hammer finish Cleburne off and secure the victory.
The RailCats return to The Depot at Cleburne Station at 7:06 p.m. for game two of their series against the Railroaders. All the action will be streamed on aabaseball.tv, 95.9 WEFM, and the Gary SouthShore RailCats Broadcast Network through the Mixlr app.