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RailCats rolling as season approaches

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Updated: June 13, 2013 7:05PM



GARY — By the time Friday’s fifth inning rolled around, the RailCats’ dugout was fairly sparse, with most of the starters who had been removed from the exhibition heading to the warmth inside to continue their work.

With temperatures in the 40s at the Steel Yard, the weather outside wasn’t exactly ideal.

But the RailCats still accomplished what they had set out to do with their game against the “Local Stars”: Continue to prepare for their season; and further evaluate players they had previously seen, this time competing against players currently on their roster.

Alain Quijano started the game for the RailCats, pitching five scoreless innings, allowing two hits with six strikeouts and one walk. They had hoped to extend the left-hander to six innings, but he reached 79 pitches, with his target between 75 and 80.

“The most important thing today was him getting the work in,” manager Greg Tagert said after the RailCats won 13-0, including scoring five runs in the ninth.

Morgan Coombs, Estevan Uriegas and Taylor Sewitt each threw a scoreless inning, as did non-roster invitee Steve Matre.

Steve Liddle hit a two-run homer in the fourth off former major leaguer Clay Zavada, who had attended the RailCats’ tryout last week. They scored four runs on four hits, highlighted by Craig Maddox’s bases-clearing double, and two walks in the fifth, against Brandon Streets, another tryout participant who was invited back.

“I think what we saw from our players, our guys continue to progress as we move through camp,” Tagert said.

Spencer Anderson, a senior this past season at Purdue North Central; Clark graduate Michael Carpen; and catcher Jack Bobillo, a Michigan City Marquette product, were position players invited back from the tryout. Anderson, who hit second and played center field for the Local Stars, went 1-for-4 with an infield hit, two stolen bases and two strikeouts. Carpen, who led off and played shortstop, went 1-for-4 with two strikeouts; and Bobillo went 0-for-2 with two strikeouts.

Tagert spoke with Anderson after the exhibition.

“He’s a very nice-looking player,” Tagert said of Anderson. “We were very impressed.

“Defensively, he’s way above-average out there.”

Zavada also remains on the RailCats’ radar, with his background — he went 3-3 with a 3.35 ERA in 49 games with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2009, and struggled with arm injuries last season with the St. Louis Cardinals’ Triple-A Memphis affiliate — and potential stuff. In 11/3 innings on Friday, the left-hander allowed the two runs on two hits with two strikeouts.

Tagert planned to get additional feedback from the RailCats’ batters who faced Zavada and the catchers who worked with him, as well as gauge Zavada’s interest level.

Right-hander Nathan Stewart, another tryout participant who was invited back, pitched the first 22/3 innings for the Local Stars, allowing an unearned run on no hits with four walks and three strikeouts.

Notes: Japanese pitcher Takahiro Matsuka arrived on Friday, after a 35-hour journey. He is scheduled to pitch for the RailCats on Sunday at Saint Paul, the second of their two weekend exhibitions against the Saints, with the team departing on Saturday morning. … Jon and Gardner Adams each pitched two innings for the Local Stars, after the RailCats initially had seen them at the team’s two-day tryout camp in March in Tennessee. The two pitchers were on their way to the RailCats’ tryout at the Steel Yard last week, when their car broke down, so they instead made the six-hour drive for Friday’s exhibition.



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