‘Cats Lose Road Opener to Saltdogs
Lincoln, Neb. — Two home runs from Curt Smith and three RBIs from Randolph Oduber was too much Gary as the RailCats fell to the Lincoln Saltdogs, 8-2, in front 3,755 fans on a hot Friday night at Haymarket Park. Despite Friday’s loss, Gary remains a half game ahead of Fargo-Moorhead, St. Paul and Winnipeg for first place in the North Division.
Lincoln (23-17) took the opening lead of the series in the first inning on Smith’s two-out, two-run home run to left. The homer was Smith’s ninth of the year and the Saltdogs’ league-leading 53rd of the season.
Gary (21-18) got their first run of the series in the top second, cutting the Lincoln lead in half. Colin Willis led off the inning with a double to the left-center wall before D.K. Carey singled to third, giving the ‘Cats runners on the corners. Two hitters later, Alex Crosby delivered a sacrifice fly to left, brining home Willis from third.
The Saltdogs added two more runs in the bottom of the second to go up, 4-1. Dashenko Ricardo reached on a fielding error from Carey in center to start the frame before Chad Hinshaw doubled to the center field wall, giving Lincoln a pair of runners in scoring position. Two batters later, Oduber drove in Ricardo and Hinshaw with a two-run bloop single to left-center.
Lincoln tacked on another run in the fifth to go up by four. Back-to-back singles from Hinshaw and Ivan Marin to open the inning gave the Saltdogs runners on the corners before Oduber drove in his final of the night with a single to center.
The Saltdogs went up 6-1 after Smith blasted his second of two home runs to open the sixth. Smith’s homer was also his league-high-tying 10th of the year.
The RailCats added their final run in the top of the sixth, trimming the Lincoln lead back down to four. Santiesteban opened the inning with a double down the left field line before Willis brought him with him home with an RBI double to left-center for his second of two doubles.
Lincoln scored again in the seventh go up 7-2. Brandon Jacobs drew a four-pitch leadoff walk before Smith brought Jacobs around to score all the way from first with an RBI double to the right-center warning track. The RBI was the last of Smith’s four of the night and was the final of his three extra-base hits.
The Saltdogs obtained their biggest lead of the series at six with the final run in the eighth. Hinshaw drew a five-pitch walk before Marin doubled to the left-center wall, bringing Hinshaw around to score from first.
Alex Gun (4-3) was tagged with the loss after allowing a season-high seven runs (six earned) on 11 hits, two walks and four strikeouts over seven innings. Eric Wooten (1-2) recorded his first American Association win after yielding just one run on six hits, a walk and two strikeouts over five innings in his first start of the season.
The RailCats continue their five-game road trip on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. in Nebraska against the Lincoln Saltdogs. RHP Gabe Perez (1-0, 3.86) makes his first start of the year for Gary against Lincoln RHP Austin Robichaux (1-3, 5.90).
Gary returns home to U.S. Steel Yard on Wednesday, July 4th, for a scheduled doubleheader against the Chicago Dogs at 5 p.m. Wednesday’s game is the fifth “Office Wednesday” of the year, another NorthShore Health Centers Wednesday, and the second annual 4th of Juluau Pig Roast, presented by Berey Bros, and Barefoot Hawaiian Luau with Fire Dancers. Wednesday’s game is Independence Day and will feature a classic egg toss between games and an Independence Day Fireworks Super Show after game two of the doubleheader. Fans can also sign up for the “Office Olympics” Jersey Auction during either game on Wednesday vs. Chicago.