Brian Kolb hit a walk-off single in the 10th inning to cap an improbable comeback in the RailCats’ 5-4 win over St. Paul on Friday night at U. S. Steel Yard. Gary (18-15) remains in third place in the Central Division, four games back of first-place Wichita.
A game that on four different occasions was one strike away from being a 4-1 Saints’ victory turned wild with two outs and the bases empty in the ninth inning. St. Paul closer Matt Meyer, who hadn’t allowed a run in his last 13 innings pitched, walked Brian Kolb and then hit Drew Martinez and Zac Mitchell with pitches to load the bases with two down. Meyer’s 1-2 pitch to Danny Pulfer was grounded toward the mound, and Meyer threw the ball away at first base, clearing the bases to tie the game at four.
Adam Klein came to the plate with Pulfer at third to try to win the game. He hit a flare to shallow left, but was robbed by Willie Cabrera on a terrific diving catch to send the game to extra innings.
RailCats reliever Clay Zavada came on in the top of the 10th and gave up back-to-back singles to start the frame, putting runners on the corners. Cabrera then sent a sharp liner to Kolb at third, who made the grab and dove into third ahead of the runner for a double play as the game remained tied heading to the bottom of the inning.
Mike Massaro started the tenth with a bunt single, which was the first hit for the RailCats since a Craig Maddox single in the third. Cristian Guerrero hit a ground ball to the left side that took a bad hop past the Saints’ shortstop and into left to put runners on the corners. With two out, Kolb was ahead in the count 3-0 but Meyer was able to push it to 3-2. Kolb chopped the ball through the left side of the infield, just past shortstop Joey Becker to bring home Massaro with the winning run.
The RailCats scored the first run of the game in the second inning. Craig Maddox led off the inning with a single to right. With two out, Drew Martinez drew a four-pitch walk to put runners on the corners and Zac Mitchell followed with a bloop base hit to right to give the RailCats a 1-0 lead.
Gary starter James Adkins left the game with an injury after two scoreless innings and Kyle Lindquist came on in relief to begin the third.
The Saints came right back with a run in the top of the third inning. Dan Kaczrowski and Adam Frost started the frame with consecutive singles. After a double play, Brad Boyer reached on an error by second baseman Danny Pulfer that allowed Kaczrowski to score to tie the game at one.
Lindquist allowed the one run in three innings of relief. Taylor Sewitt came on for the RailCats in the sixth and pitched a scoreless inning.
Sewitt’s first pitch of the seventh inning was driven out of the ballpark in left-center by Brandon Tripp. It was Tripp’s ninth home run of the season and the first allowed by Taylor Sewitt this season and gave St. Paul a 2-1 lead.
In the top of the eighth inning, with the bases loaded and two out, Tripp clobbered a ball towards left-center field for the second consecutive inning. This one scored Dan Kaczrowski and Adam Frost to give the Saints a 4-1 lead.
The Saints spoiled a great outing by starter Luke Anderson, who allowed just four hits and an intentional walk over seven innings while striking out six and just one run to cross home. He retired 13 of the last 14 hitters he faced.
Zavada (3-1) picked up the victory while Meyer (3-2) took the loss for St. Paul.
Game three of the series is on Saturday night at 6:10 at U. S. Steel Yard. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.railcatsbaseball.com.