won his fourth straight decision and Kyle Heyne
closed out his first Northern League save as the Gary SouthShore RailCats maintained sole possession of first place with a 4-2 win over the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks Friday night in front of 4,272 fans at U. S. Steel Yard.
Holleran (5-2) gave up only four hits and one run in 5.1 innings to beat the RedHawks for the second time in as many starts, working only one 1-2-3 inning but never allowing the visitors to collect the big hit. The rookie right-hander has not lost since July 26 (a span of six straight outings) and lowered his season ERA to 3.46 in 14 appearances and 11 starts. Holleran allowed the game’s first run in the second inning on a Ruben Salazar RBI single but shut down the RedHawks offense from there, striking out three and walking four in the victory.
The RailCats took the lead in the bottom of the third and never trailed from that point on. Jay Pecci walked with two outs in the third against Garry Bakker (7-7) to put runners on first and second in front of Steve Haake, who stroked a double into the left field corner to score both runners and make the score 2-1 ‘Cats. Haake has driven in a season-high 64 runs this season, the third-most in a single year in club history, only two behind Wes Chamberlain’s 2003 season, which ranks second all time.
Rob Marconi grew the ‘Cats lead in the fourth when he collected the third of three straight two-out hits, bringing Mike Rohde in from third base with a ground ball single to left. Pecci made the score 4-1 in the seventh when he plated Mike Massaro with a sacrifice fly.
Heyne made things anything but easy en route to just the second save of his professional career, coming on to start the eighth inning and immediately serving up a Jeremiah Piepkorn double. Then Heyne made matters worse by walking the next three hitters consecutively, forcing in a run when Alan Rick reached. With the score 4-2 and the bases still loaded with no one out, Heyne struck out Carlo Cota swinging, got Justin Justice to pop out to shortstop and retired Mike Coles on a routine ground ball to second.
Heyne came back out for the ninth with closer Andy Shipman enjoying a night off and walked Zach Penprase to lead off the inning. But again Heyne battled his way out of it, retiring Nic Jackson and Piepkorn on infield pop ups and getting Donzell McDonald to fly out to right. Heyne’s save was his first in 33 relief appearances for the RailCats this season.
The ‘Cats out-hit Fargo-Moorhead 8-6, with Marconi notching the only two-hit game. Salazar and Cota each had two hits to pace the RedHawks.
The win, coupled with a Winnipeg win over Schaumburg, kept the ‘Cats one game clear of the Goldeyes in the standings with three games left in the regular season. The Fargo loss dropped the RedHawks 2.5 games behind the RailCats in third place. With one more win the RailCats will guarantee themselves one of the top two seeds and home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
The RailCats (55-38) and RedHawks (52-40) continue their four-game series Saturday night at 6 p.m. when the ‘Cats will give away tin lunchboxes to the first 1,000 kids (age 12 and under) just in time for the start of school, courtesy Geminus Prevention Services. The RailCats will also be wearing special camouflage jerseys and the jerseys will go up for auction during the game with the winners collecting those uniforms off the players’ backs after the last out.
The ‘Cats will send Derell McCall (6-0, 2.27 ERA) to the mound to start Saturday night against RedHawks right-hander Billy Weitzman (2-2, 5.53 ERA).