RailCats veterans lead rally for win in opener
By Michael Osipoff email@example.com or 713-2485 May 16, 2013 11:23PM
Gary catcher Craig Maddox tracks down the foul ball for an out in the first inning Thursday evening against the Lincoln Saltdogs at the Steel Yard in Gary. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 17, 2013 12:16AM
GARY — On Opening Day, it seemed somehow appropriate that a pair of veterans propelled the RailCats to a win.
Mike Massaro started a comeback, and Adam Klein completed it, as they edged Lincoln 9-8 in 11 innings on Thursday night at the Steel Yard, after they had fallen behind by four and five runs in the first two innings.
“It feels great not only to win, but to win in the fashion that we won. … To come all the way back, to me, is really impressive,” Klein said. “It’s very indicative of the character of this ballclub, something I expect from this ballclub from this point on — to be able to come back from behind and win late in the game.”
Klein lined a single to center with two outs, just in front of a diving center fielder Stephen Douglas, to score Zac Mitchell. Mitchell had walked with two outs, and Chase Tucker followed with an infield hit.
“Typically, 2-1 count, I’m not swinging,” said Klein, who walked twice and was hit by a pitch in his first three plate appearances. “But we had guys in scoring position with two outs, and I was feeling really good, really confident with the way I was swinging the bat today, even though I didn’t really swing much. … I was looking for something 2-1 over the middle of the plate to trust myself and use my hands and hit that ball hopefully for a base hit and a run. He (Eddie McKiernan) gave me a good pitch to hit.”
Six RailCats relief pitchers combined to allow one run on two hits in 62⁄3 innings, after starter Alain Quijano gutted through 41⁄3. Ian Durham worked a perfect 11th for the win, as the bullpen retired the final 12 batters it faced.
“I thought the club was outstanding to battle back,” RailCats manager Greg Tagert said.
“Everyone — talk about a team win.”
The RailCats had scored six unanswered runs, including two in the fifth, to snag an 8-7 lead. In that inning, they used two walks, a Lincoln error and Tucker’s run-scoring single to complete their comeback.
But Dennis Raben tied the score with a homer, his second of the game, to start the eighth against Morgan Coombs — before the RailCats set down those 12 straight hitters.
The RailCats had trailed 4-0 in the first and 7-2 in the second, as Lincoln touched Quijano for a pair of three-run homers, before rallying.
After Raben jacked the first homer into the right-field seats in the first, the RailCats answered with two runs, including Massaro’s RBI triple. And after Ian Gac cracked the second homer to left in the second, the RailCats answered with four runs, highlighted by Massaro’s bases-clearing double.
The RailCats improved to 5-7 all-time in season openers, 4-7 in home openers, and 2-2 in season openers at home. They were opening a season at home for the first time since 2010, a 9-6 loss to Kansas City.
“Just the way we drew it up,” Tagert joked.
“Everyone will sleep well tonight, and enjoy that win, and come back down to earth tomorrow.”