The Gary SouthShore RailCats (12-14) had the tying run on third base in the bottom of the ninth, but a late comeback effort fell just short in a 5-4 loss to the Cleburne Railroaders (13-13) on Thursday night.
After falling into an early 2-0 hole through the first two innings, Gary SouthShore answered back in the third. Daniel Lingua led the inning off with a single and promptly stole second base, advancing another 90 feet on a groundout. Gio Díaz drove shortstop in through an RBI groundout, quickly cutting the Railroader lead in half.
However, the Railroaders responded right away in the fourth as a Hill Alexander RBI double restored their lead to two.
From there, both pitching staffs took control, keeping the score at 3-1 until the eighth inning.
Julio Vivas started on the mound for Gary SouthShore and delivered five innings of three-run ball, striking out four Cleburne hitters in the process. The right-hander gave way to Oddy Nuñez who dazzled with two hitless and scoreless innings. The towering lefty retired all six batters he faced, punching out two.
Utilizing a Zach Nehrir RBI single and Guillermo Quintana bases-loaded walk, Cleburne built its lead up to four in the eighth inning.
Despite seeing their deficit double, though, the RailCats refused to go down quietly.
Trailing 5-1 entering the bottom of the ninth, Lingua kickstarted a furious comeback bid by drawing a one-out walk. Michael Woodworth then reached on an error, and Díaz followed up by working his second walk of the game to load the bases. Representing the tying run at the plate, Jesus Marriaga launched a triple to the center field wall, clearing the bases and bringing the RailCats to within one at 5-4.
Unfortunately, as Marriaga stood a base away from tying the game, the Cleburne bullpen stepped up and recorded the final two outs in consecutive fashion, averting the threat and closing out the win.
The RailCats aim for redemption in game four of their six-game series against the Railroaders tomorrow night at 6:45 p.m. from The Steel Yard. All the action will be streamed on www.aabaseball.tv and broadcast over the radio on 95.9 WEFM and the Gary SouthShore RailCats Broadcast Network via the Mixlr app.