Westphal, Dogs Nearly No-Hit RailCats, 5-1
ROSEMONT, ILL. — Colin Willis snapped the Dogs’ potential shutout and combined no-hitter with a two-out RBI single to right in the top of the ninth off Rich Mascheri, however, Gary fell to Chicago, 5-1, in the second game of the season. Down to ‘Cats final strike, Willis pulled a soft line drive just over the head of Dogs first baseman Keon Barnum, scoring Alex Crosby from third.
After scoring six runs in the bottom of the second in Friday’s season opener, Chicago scored three runs in the bottom of the second on Saturday to take a 3-0 lead. Barnum doubled off the center field wall to begin the frame before Jordan Dean reached on a throwing error by RailCats shortstop Marcus Mooney. Harrison Smith followed Dean with an RBI single, scoring Barnum from second. Three batters later, Edwin Arroyo cleared the bases with a two-run double to the left-center wall, plating both Dean and Smith.
Chicago (2-0) went up 4-0 with their third two-out run of the evening in the third. Victor Roache pulled a single through the left side of the infield to begin the inning before Smith drew a two-out walk. Larry Balkwill then brought home Roache from second with an RBI infield single off the glove of Mooney at short.
The Dogs tacked on their final run of the night in the bottom of the seventh. Trey Vavra drew his last of three walks with one out before Kelly Dugan single to center. Two batters later, Barnum singled home Vavra with a two-out RBI single to center.
Christian DeLeon (0-1) was charged with the loss in his American Association debut for Gary (0-2). The right-hander allowed four runs (two earned) on seven hits and four walks while striking out three over 3.1 innings.
Jumpei Akanuma made his professional baseball debut in relief for Gary and allowed one run on two hits and two walks while striking out two over two innings. Sandy Lugo signed his first Independent Professional Baseball contract with the ‘Cats before Saturday’s game and tossed 2.2 scoreless innings of relief. The right-hander retired the last seven batters he faced and struck out three.
Luke Westphal (1-0) tossed 5.2 hitless innings in his American Association debut for Chicago. The southpaw retired 16 straight RailCat hitters at one point, walked just one batter and struck out three. Carlos Zambrano retired all four batters he faced in relief in his American Association debut for the Dogs while John Goossen-Brown struck out a pair of hitters over a scoreless inning of relief in his season debut.
Gary and Chicago conclude their three-game series on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. RailCats southpaw Trevor Lubking (0-0, 0.00) makes his debut for Gary against Dogs’ right-hander Trevor Simms (0-0, 0.00) in the series finale at Impact Field.
The RailCats home opener at U.S. Steel Yard is on Tuesday, May 21 vs. the Sioux City Explorers at 7:10 p.m. Tuesday’s home opener features a free magnet schedule giveaway, presented by Northwest Indiana Orthopedic and Spine Center at Methodist Hospitals, and Post-Game Fireworks. Tuesday’s home opener is also Gary Community Night, presented by Fifth Third Bank, and is the first Taco Tuesday and Community HealthNet Health Centers Tuesday of the season.
Ticket packages for the 2019 Gary SouthShore RailCats season are available online at railcatsbaseball.com and can also be purchased by calling the RailCats ticket line at (219) 882-BALL. The RailCats box office is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
By Jared Shlensky