Despite losing game two, Gary guaranteed themselves at least a regular-season series split with Texas with the game one victory.
Texas (21-60) took the opening lead of the series with a run in the second inning. Javion Randle and Chen Junpeng started the inning with consecutive singles for the first hits of the series. Cao Jie followed Junpeng with a sacrifice bunt before Yang Jin brought home Randle with a sacrifice fly to center.
Gary (33-48) took its first lead of the series with a pair of runs in the third inning. Marcus Mooney recorded the RailCats first hit with a leadoff double down the third base line before Alex Crosby reached on a throwing error by AirHogs starter Gan Quan, giving the ‘Cats runners on the corners. Daniel Gardner followed Crosby with a walk before John Price Jr. brought home Mooney from third with a sacrifice fly to center. Randy Santiesteban then loaded the bases full of RailCats for the second time in the inning with a walk before Colin Willis gave Gary the lead with the second sacrifice fly of the frame.
The RailCats increased their lead to 3-1 with another sacrifice fly in the sixth. Willis walked with one out before advancing to second on a wild pitch from AirHogs reliver Carlos Contreras. Danny De La Calle followed with an opposite field single, giving Gary runners on the corners. Ray Jones then delivered the final run in game one with a sacrifice fly to right, scoring Willis from third.
David Griffin (2-0) picked up the win with two innings out of the bullpen. The right-hander yielded one run on three hits and a walk while striking out three in his second appearance re-signing with the ‘Cats on Friday.
Felix Carvallo (5) recorded a hold with three scoreless innings of relief while Christian DeLeon (1) secured the win with his professional save in the top of the seventh. The southpaw yielded just two singles, walked none and struck out one while DeLeon retired all three batters he faced in order.
Gan Quan (1-7) was charged with the loss in his second start of the year against Gary. The right-hander allowed three runs (two earned) over 5.1 innings on a double and five walks.
Texas scored first again in game two with a pair of runs in the top of the third. Justin Byrd doubled into the left field corner to begin the before moving up to third on a sacrifice bunt from Li Ning. Javion Randle followed Byrd with an RBI single, bringing in Byrd from. Randle was then caught trying to steal second before Stewart Ijames launched his team-high 10th home run on to the right field concourse.
Gary quickly countered with a four-run bottom of the second to take the lead for good in game two. Hayden Schilling reached on an infield single before Mooney worked a nine-pitch walk. Crosby then reached on an infield single to load the bases. Price Jr. then hit a one-hopper to Li Ning at second on a potential double play ball, however, Ning’s throw to second skipped into left field, allowing both Schilling and Mooney to score. Santiesteban followed Price Jr. with a two-run single to right-center to give Gary to the lead for good.
The ‘Cats increased their lead to 5-2 in game two with a two-out run in the fourth. Mooney singled with two outs before stealing second. Crosby followed Mooney with an RBI single through the right side of the infield.
The Hogs cut the RailCats lead to 5-3 with another run in the fifth. Stephen Haviar doubled off the top of the left-center field wall to begin the inning before coming around to score on Randle’s RBI single to right.
Gary added another run in the sixth to go up 6-3. Jones and Schilling walked consecutively with one out before Mooney brought Jones around to score from second with an RBI single to left.
Texas forced extras in game two with a three-run top of the seventh inning. Jin singled to begin the inning before coming around to score on Stephen Haviar’s RBI double. Byrd and Ning then walked consecutively to load the bases before Randle drove in his third run of the game with an RBI single to right. After Ijames struck out, Dean hit what looked to be a possible-game ending double play ball to Mooney at short, however, his throw to second took Schilling off the bag, allowing the game-tying run to score in Byrd to score from third.
The AirHogs took the lead for good with the game-winning run in the top of the ninth in game two. Ijames walked with one out before moving up to third on Junpeng’s two-out opposite-field single. Erik Manoah followed Junpeng with an RBI single to left on the ninth pitch of the at-bat.
Gary put the tying run on base in the bottom of the ninth but failed to score. MJ Rookard extended his career-high on-base streak to 13 games with a leadoff walk but Carlos Contreras retired the next three hitters to end the game.
Tyler Matzek (5-4) recorded the win with a perfect bottom of the eighth while Contreras (1) secured the win with the save in a scoreless bottom of the ninth. Jack Alkire (1-4) was charged with the loss and the blown save. The rookie right-hander went a career-high three innings out of the ‘pen, allowing two runs on four hits and three walks while striking out five.
Gary and Texas play one another for the final time on Wednesday in the series finale. RailCats’ right-hander Justin Sinibaldi (5-5, 3.21) opposes AirHogs’ right-hander Zhang Tao (1-6, 5.32) in the series finale.
Wednesday’s game is another Creekside “Pop-Up Bar Wednesday”, celebrating Family Matters, and NorthShore Health Centers Wednesday. Visit any Northwest Indiana NorthShore Health Center for complimentary tickets to a RailCats game.
Ticket packages for the 2019 Gary SouthShore RailCats season are available online at www.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.