Zac Mitchell shines in first RailCats start
By Steve T. Gorches 648-3141 or email@example.com July 26, 2012 11:22PM
Updated: August 28, 2012 6:23AM
GARY — It didn’t take long for Zac Mitchell to make an impact with his new team.
The 22-year-old rookie who was claimed off waivers from Wichita on Tuesday got his first start with the RailCats on Thursday night at U.S. Steel Yard against the Sioux City Explorers.
(His first appearance with Gary came on Wednesday as a pinch runner.)
Mitchell got a single in his first at-bat in the second inning as the Cats’ designated hitter. His next time up was the same result as part of a four-run third inning that helped lead the RailCats to a 5-2 victory and keep their string of improved play going.
Gary is now five games under .500 at 30-35 after being 15 games under the break-even mark earlier in the season. And the Cats also gained on both teams ahead of them in the Central Division. Gary is now seven games behind first-place Wichita and 41⁄2 behind second-place Kansas City.
Mitchell’s second base hit drove in the Cats’ fourth run, scoring Mike Rohde who drew a walk.
It was a lengthy inning with a little bit of everything. The first run scored on a double from Hammond native Mike Coles that hit off the pitcher’s mound. Yes, that’s right, a double on a seeing-eye grounder that bounced high off the mound, snuck through between the outstretched gloves of the Sioux City second baseman and shortstop, leading to Coles legging out an extra base.
Coles scored on a single from Brian Kolb for the third run.
The Cats batted around in the frame with leadoff hitter Adam Klein recording the first and last out. There were four runs, five hits, three Explorers errors, a walk and a wild pitch. But despite the errors, all four runs were earned. Go figure.
Gary’s fifth run scored in the seventh inning on — you guessed it — another RBI single from Mitchell.
Stephen Hiscock pitched well for the Cats, only giving up one run — a home run from Kris Sanchez to lead off the second inning. In 62⁄3 innings he gave up four hits and three walks while striking out three.
It got a little hairy in the top of the ninth as Gary closer Chris Allen came into the game in a non-save situation and gave up a run on four hits, bringing the tying run to home plate before he struck out Wally Backman Jr. Yes, that would be the son of the former New York Mets second baseman.
Mike Massaro stayed hot for the Cats, wishing that they could play the Explorers more often. After reaching on an error in the first inning, he got three straight hits, including a double to lead off the fourth inning, before grounding out in the eighth. He extended his hitting streak to eight and improved his average to .482 (14-of-29) on the season against Sioux City. In the eight-game hitting streak, Massaro is hitting a scalding .531 (17-of-32).
There was also some added entertainment for the paid crowd of 3,102 in the bottom of the sixth inning when Sioux City catcher Ray Serrano wasn’t happy with the third ball of an eventual walk to Coles. He was ejected from the game by the home plate umpire, but not before getting in several choice words in animated fashion.
The Cats also continued to show their league-leading speed. Gary had three stolen bases in the game for an American Association-high 117 as a team.