RailCats offense comes alive in sweep of Wichita
GARY — Wichita provided some assistance with its defense.
But with the way the RailCats have been going offensively recently, they weren’t going to complain. Plus, they did their part with several hard-hit balls.
The RailCats erupted for seven runs (two earned) in the second inning in Game 1 of Tuesday night’s doubleheader against the Wingnuts, riding that outburst to a 7-4 win at the Steel Yard. Gary (50-37) then completed the sweep of American Association-leading Wichita (58-30) with a 4-3 win in Game 2. Ryan Babineau came through with a walk-off single in the ninth inning of the second scheduled seven-inning game, one in which Mike Massaro had his second inside the park homer of the month (and his career) and the Wingnuts surrendered two more unearned runs.
In Game 1, five of those seven runs were unearned, as even though the RailCats collected six hits and sent 11 batters to the plate in the inning, the Wingnuts committed two errors, including one by first baseman CJ Ziegler (who hit two homers on Tuesday, tied for the league lead with 26) with one out that helped open the floodgates. Craig Maddox had a hit in each of his two at-bats, including a run-scoring double to cap the inning. Nick Liles had a two-run single that gave the RailCats a 3-2 lead against former major leaguer Chris Smith, after they had trailed 2-0. Among the other highlights/lowlights in the inning, depending on one’s perspective, Massaro tripled in a run and scored on the play on a throwing error.
“Just a great job by the club against a very good right-hander who was very tough on us last week (Smith allowed one run in six innings last Wednesday),” RailCats manager Greg Tagert said between the two seven-inning games. “So that was pretty impressive for us.
“I thought the club did exceptionally well to keep pushing across the runs. We took advantage of the big error in that inning that really helped matters, but you have to take advantage of it, and we haven’t gotten that big two-out hit lately, and they came today a couple different times.”
Chuck Fontana picked up the win with two scoreless innings in relief of spot start Matt Jernstad, who lasted 21⁄3 innings and allowed three runs.
Estevan Uriegas notched the second win with two perfect innings in relief of starter Stephen Hiscock, who gutted through a 118-pitch, seven-inning outing.
After last Thursday’s rainout at Wichita, the RailCats were playing their franchise-record fifth doubleheader of the season, after their previous single-season high had been three (2004, ’06, ’09). This one was their third against the Wingnuts, and second in the last week.
The RailCats have split three of their doubleheaders this season, getting their second sweep after also doing so at Wichita in June. They’re 7-4 overall against the Wingnuts this season, including 4-1 at home.
Notes: Newly acquired Joe Zeller is scheduled to start for the RailCats on Wednesday night against Wichita. The knuckleballer will be pitching on three days rest, after he started for the Greys, a traveling team in the Frontier League, on Saturday. … Alain Quijano (hand) is feeling better, even throwing a light bullpen session on Tuesday, though it was not pain-free. He will miss what had been his scheduled start on Wednesday, but likely will take his next turn on Sunday at St. Paul.