Double or Nothing: ‘Cats to RedHawks in two

GARY, Ind. — The Gary SouthShore RailCats recorded their second doubleheader sweep in the last three days after walking-off over Fargo-Moorhead, 4-3, in nine innings in game one before blanking the RedHawks, 3-0, in game two. Thursday’s doubleheader sweep keeps Gary within 1.5 games of the St. Paul Saints for first place in the North Division and increases the RailCats lead over the RedHawks to 4.5 games for the second and final playoff spot in the division.

Gary (52-38) took the opening lead of game one with a run in the second. Ronnie Mitchell tripled into the right field corner to begin the frame before scoring two batters later on an RBI groundout from Tillman Pugh.

Jeff McKenzie retired 11 of the first 12 batters he saw and faced the minimum through four frames before allowing three runs to Fargo-Moorhead (47-42) in the fifth. Chris Jacobs started the inning with a homer to left-center that one-hopped on to fourth avenue, evening the game at 1-0. A five-pitch walk drawn by Leo Pina followed by back-to-back singles from Charlie Valerio and Yhoxian Medina loaded the bases for the RedHawks. Quinn Irey then gave Fargo their first lead with an RBI single to left before Tim Colwell put the RedHawks in front 3-1 with a sacrifice fly to center.

The RailCats tied the game at 3-3 with a pair of runs in the sixth. Andy De Jesus led off the frame with a single to center before Randy Santiesteban was hit in the left shoulder on an 0-1 pitch. Anthony Pacillo then relived RedHawks starter Michael Tamburino on the mound. Colin Willis trimmed the Fargo-Moorhead lead to one with an RBI single into right field before Ronnie Mitchell deadlocked the game with a sacrifice fly to left off Pacillo.

Tied at 3-3 in the bottom of the ninth, the RailCats walked-off on De Jesus’ RBI single down the right field line. De Jesus’ walk-off single was Gary’s sixth walk-off victory of the year and De Jesus’ second walk-off contribution. Alex Crosby led off the inning with a bunt single up the third base line for his second of two hits. Will Savage then singled to right after D.K. Carey struck out for the first out, giving Gary runners on first and second. De Jesus followed with the walk-off single, catapulting Gary to their first of two wins on the evening.

Jack Fowler (1-1) recorded his first win of the year in game one with a perfect top of the ninth. Randy McCurry (3-3) was tagged with the loss, yielding a run on three hits, a walk and four strikeouts.

Gary jumped in front again in game two with a run in the first. Savage walked to begin the frame before De Jesus reached on an infield single. Two batters later, Willis pulled an RBI single into right, plating Savage from second.

The ‘Cats increased their lead to 3-0 with a pair of two-out runs in the fourth. Pugh snapped Reese Gregory’s run of seven straight batters retired with a two-out infield single. Pugh then advanced to second on a wild pitch before scoring on Crosby’s RBI single to center. Cole Fabio followed with a single to center before Savage brought home Crosby with an RBI single for his second hit of the contest.

Peyton Sanderlin, who signed his first professional baseball contract before game two of tonight’s doubleheader, earned the win with five shutout frames. The right-hander retired nine of the first 10 batters he faced and yielded just three hits, a walk and struck out five. Mario Samuel (3) recorded a hold with 0.2 hitless innings of relief while Myles Smith (4) secured the win and doubleheader sweep with the four-out save. Gregory was charged with the loss in the complete game performance. The right-hander allowed three runs on eight hits, walked two and struck out two.

Gary and Fargo-Moorhead continue their three-day, four-game series on Friday at 7:10 p.m. The RailCats have yet to announce their starter and the RedHawks are expected to send RHP DJ Brown (9-2, 3.98) to the mound in game three of the series. Friday’s game is Jimmy Buffet Night, which will feature margarita and cheeseburger special, and is another Fifth Third Bank Fireworks Friday.

Jared Shlensky and Brennan Mense bring you all 100 RailCats game this season on WEFM (95.9 FM) and online at railcatsbaseball.com. Ticket packages for the 2018 Gary SouthShore RailCats season are available online at railcatsbaseball.com and can also be purchased by calling the RailCats ticket line at (219) 882-BALL. The RailCats box office is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.