drove in the go-ahead run as part of a two-run seventh inning as the Gary SouthShore RailCats moved within one win of the Northern League’s regular season title with a 6-4 win over the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks Saturday night in front of a capacity crowd of 6,054 at U. S. Steel Yard.
The RedHawks tied the game at four in the top of the seventh, but with one out in the bottom of the inning Rob Marconi
ripped a triple over the head of centerfielder Nic Jackson against Fargo starter Billy Weitzman (2-3). Left-hander Adam Tollefson came out of the bullpen to face Massaro, but the ‘Cats leadoff man got the better of the matchup with a line drive single through a drawn in infield to plate Marconi. The RailCats added another run later in the inning when the RedHawks made two errors off a Jay Pecci
line drive to allow a run to score. Pecci was thrown out at the plate later in the frame while trying to score on a wild pitch and was thrown out on a hard tag by Ibanez, emptying both dugouts and resulting in Ibanez’s ejection.
Andy Shipman did the rest for the RailCats, striking out two in the eighth and then working a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his league-leading 14th save. Shipman, pitching for the first time since blowing his third save in four chances Tuesday, looked sharp Saturday night and got a great diving catch by Eric McNamee off the bat of Zach Penprase for the last out of the ninth.
Fargo took the lead in the top of the first inning before Steve Haake cranked his 10th home run of the year with two men on in the bottom of the first. After Massaro and McNamee had singled, Haake drove a 1-1 pitch into the grass berm in right to up his RBI total to 67 and give the RailCats a 3-1 lead. Haake’s 67 RBI are the second-most in a season in franchise history, and his 10 home runs match a career high first set for the 2004 Springfield/Ozark Ducks of the Frontier League. The homer was Haake’s first since July 22.
The RailCats went up 4-1 in the second when Mike Rohde doubled and scored on a Massaro sacrifice fly. Derell McCall started for the ‘Cats and was solid once again, although he did allow two more runs (one earned) to score in the third to get the RedHawks within one. McCall worked six innings and allowed six hits, four runs (three earned) and three walks but did not factor in the decision. McCall will finish the regular season with a perfect 6-0 record in eight starts.
Aaron Cook (2-3) pitched for the first time since breaking his leg fielding a ground ball July 15 and notched his second win, giving up Nic Jackson’s game-tying sacrifice fly in the seventh but striking out Jeremiah Piepkorn – the league’s leading hitter – to end the inning.
The RailCats out-hit Fargo 9-6, getting two-hit days from Haake and Massaro. Justin Justice and Mike Coles led the RedHawks with two hits apiece.
The RailCats (56-38) and RedHawks (52-41) continue their season-ending series Sunday at 2 p.m. at U. S. Steel Yard. Right-hander Grant Johnson (4-7, 7.13 ERA) will start Sunday’s game for the RailCats opposite rookie right-hander Matt Mossey (4-2, 4.80 ERA).