Greg Tagert ejected as RailCats fall to last place in standings
BY RYAN HASKELL Post-Tribune correspondent June 24, 2012 11:08PM
RailCats left fielder Adam Klein slips while trying to catch a fly ball off the bat of Lincoln's Tommy Collaro (not pictured) during the top of the second inning at the Steel Yard in Gary, Ind., Sunday, June 24, 2012. Collaro was able to advance for a single. | Guy Rhodes~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 26, 2012 6:25AM
GARY — RailCats manager Greg Tagert was absolutely beside himself and let the umpire know it in the seventh inning Sunday when he came out of the dugout and argued a baseline interference call involving Hammond native Mike Coles.
Coles, who was attempting to get on base with a bunt single, was hit in the back with the ball as he was running to first base and was called out for running inside the baseline. Tagert didn’t see it that way.
So he let out some of his frustrations on the umpire. Five minutes later, Tagert was ejected.
Not exactly the weekend finish Tagert had hoped for.
Lincoln put an exclamation point on it, winning the game 6-5 to take its first road series of the year. The win also dropped Gary (15-20) into last-place with the Saltdogs (15-20).
“We have hit absolute rock bottom,” Tagert said. “I mean we can talk all we want about a nice valiant effort and we continued to battle back but our starting pitching didn’t get through four innings.
“It was a tough one on Morgan Coombs; he’s a young pitcher whose done a heck of a job for us but at the end of the day when it’s all said and done, the club battles back and gets you back in the game and … you know a club that comes in at the bottom of the standings and takes two of three from you. I’m not sure what that says about us.”
Coombs worked just 32/3 innings, giving up six runs on eight hits, walking three and striking out just one. Lincoln jumped out to a 3-0 lead after two innings, but Gary fought back to tie it with runs in the second and third innings.
Sean Henry doubled and scored for the RailCats in the second, and Adam Klein walked and scored on Mike Massaro’s triple in the third inning. Massaro would score the team’s third run on an RBI groundout by Coles.
But the Saltdogs came right back in the fourth inning scoring all three of their runs with two outs. Joe Spiers (4-for-4, 2 runs, 2 RBI) homered, while Mike Provencher doubled and scored. David Espinosa drew a walk, Stephen Holdren singled, and Jimmy Rohan singled and drove in Espinosa before Tagert finally pulled the plug on his starting pitcher.
RailCats reliever Nolan Nicholson struck out Saltdogs catcher Salomon Manriquez to end the inning. In fact, the bullpen didn’t give up a single run in 51/3 innings. But the damage was already done.
“The home run … we can live with, but the two runs after without stopping the bleeding that’s what hurt us,” Tagert said. “I don’t know if that comes from the ability to pitch at this level or if it’s a mental part but we don’t have the answer.”
Massaro and the team didn’t quit, though. Massaro broke a team record and tied an American Association record by recording his third triple of the game in the fifth inning. He scored on a Mike Rohde groundout to cut the deficit to 6-4. Rohde was hit by pitch and scored another run in the seventh inning to make it a one-run game but the offense stalled from there.
Gary had a golden opportunity with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the eighth inning facing pitcher Brand Cooney. Cooney went 3-1 on Coles but wound up inducing him into a 6-4-3 double play to end the threat.
The RailCats went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning to close out the game and series. Coombs dropped to 2-3 with the loss. Lincoln starting pitcher Wade Mackey improved to 3-0, while P.J. Zocchi earned his eighth save of the year.