Eric Wooten kept the RailCat offense off-balance for 8 1/3 innings and Christian Ibarra broke open a scoreless game with a three-run homer in the fifth inning to pace Lincoln to a 5-1 victory in front of 3.496 fans on Office Wednesday at the U.S. Steel Yard. With the loss, the RailCats dropped their first series since July 9-11 vs. Texas and finish the six-game homestand 3-3.
The early innings had the look of a classic pitcher’s duel. Alex Gunn would allow two-out hits in the first two innings, but neither man scored. He also exhibited an unusual amount of swing-and-miss stuff, punching out six batters in the first four frames.
On the other side, though, Wooten was even better, walking three, but holding the RailCats hitless through the first four innings.
In the fifth, Gunn began the frame with his second strikeouts, but an infield single to short and bunt single would bring up Christian Ibarra, who deposited a 2-0 fastball high off the net beyond the left field concourse, giving Lincoln (35-40) a 3-0 lead.
Gary (43-31) would mount their first serious scoring threat in the bottom of the frame, with Andy Paz leading off the inning with the RailCats’ first hit of the game. Gary would then sandwich a pair of walks around a sacrifice bunt to load the bases with one out. However, Alex Crosby would swing at the first pitch he saw and roll into a 4-6-3 double play to leave the RailCats empty-handed in the inning.
After Gunn worked a perfect sixth, but would succumb once more to Lincoln’s hard-hitting offense in the seventh, allowing a leadoff single, then a two-out, two-strike RBI double to Brandon Jacobs to make it a four-run game. He would, however, end the inning with his ninth strikeouts, tying his career high set on July 24th against Sioux Falls.
Lincoln would tack on a final run in the top of the ninth inning with Ibarra collecting his fourth RBI of the night on a sacrifice fly off Gary reliever Lars Liguori, scoring Ivan Marin. Wooten would then come back for the bottom of the ninth and allow back-to-back hits to start the inning, giving way to J.R. Bunda after picking up a strikeout of Paz to end his night. Ronnie Mitchell would hit a sacrifice fly to give the RailCats their first and only run of the game, but Garrett Copeland flew out to left field to end the contest.
Gunn would fall to 7-5, going seven innings and allowing four runs on ten hits. Meanwhile, Wooten went 8 1/3 innings, allowing one run on five hits, six walks, and six strikeouts in improving to 2-6, with both wins this season over Gary.
Gary begins a four-game road trip against the St. Paul Saints at CHS Field on Thursday night at 7:05 p.m. RailCats RHP Keaton Steele (4-2, 2.06) opposes Saints RHP Eddie Medina (6-4, 2.70) in the opening game of the series.
Gary returns home to U.S. Steel Yard on Monday, August 13th for the start of a six-game, seven-day homestand. Monday’s series opener vs. the back-to-back American Association Champion Winnipeg Goldeyes is at 7:10 p.m. and is another All You Can Eat Night and Metro PCS Monday. Fans can purchase their $10 All You Can Eat Wristband for hot dogs, peanuts and popcorn at the box office before and during Monday’s game against the Goldeyes.
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.