Gary, Ind. – A Dalton Blaser two-run, go-ahead home run on the heels of a benches clearing brawl propelled the Dogs to a 4-3 victory over the RailCats on a drama-filled Wednesday night in Gary.
The victory capped a long night of baseball between the two teams, as they began with the resumption of a suspended game from May 31. With the game restarting in the top of the eleventh inning, neither team would score until Alex Crosby produced an RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the fourteenth inning. The game marked the longest in the American Association this year.
A mere thirty minutes later, the two teams began their regularly scheduled tilt, and moved briskly through the first four innings. Chicago starter Scott Barnes worked a perfect first four frames on the mound, while the tandem of Yasutomo Kubo and Jeff McKenzie worked a scoreless opening five frames for the ‘Cats.
Gary finally struck first blood in the bottom of the fifth inning, thanks to lead-off double from Andy Paz and an RBI sacrifice fly from Crosby. The RailCats loaded the bases with nobody out in the frame, but Barnes was able to escape the inning with just the one run allowed.
Chicago would strike for the first time in the top of the sixth inning thanks to a a triple from Jonathan Moroney, and RBI hits from Edwin Arroyo and Dalton Blaser. The hit from Blaser came off the left-hander McKenzie, and was just the fourth hit for Blaser against a left-handed pitcher in 33 at-bats on the year.
Moroney’s triple extended his season-long hitting streak to 14 games.
Gary would answer with two runs on three doubles in the bottom of the frame, however. Paz and D.K. Carey would plate runs with their extra-base hits, and the RailCats would recapture the lead at 3-2.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, tempers boiled over and fireworks began to flare between the two clubs. After John Price Jr. flew out to center field with one out in the bottom of the seventh, he began to exchange words with the Chicago dugout. Both benches would clear, and a brawl would ensue behind home plate. Price Jr. and Gary catcher Wilfredo Gimenez were ejected from the game for the RailCats and Barnes, who had been lifted in favor of Chicago reliever Rich Mascheri one batter earlier, was ejected for the Dogs.
After the storm calmed, and with Chicago still down 3-2 and one out in the top of the eighth inning, Blaser hit his second home run of the year over the fence in right field to give the Chicago designated hitter his third RBI of the game. The long ball again came in a match-up between McKenzie and Blaser, and netted Blaser his fifth hit of the year against a southpaw in 34 at-bats.
After a Randy Santiesteban two-out double in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Dogs turned to closer Kaohi Downing for a four-out save. After walking the first batter he faced, Downing escaped the frame by striking out Carey looking.
Downing then pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his seventh save of the year. Mascheri collected the win for Chicago, recording four outs, and striking out two. Barnes allowed three runs in six and one-third innings for the Dogs and earned his seventh consecutive no-decision.
With the win, in conjunction with the loss in the May 31 suspended game, Chicago now sits at 11-26 on the year. Gary meanwhile, is 20-17.
The Dogs and ‘Cats will conclude their four-game home-and-home series Thursday night from U.S. Steel Yard in Gary. Chicago will send right-hander Connor Root to the hill, while the RailCats will counter with Daniel Minor.
First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. The game will be broadcast at www.thechicagodogs.com/broadcasts/ with the Crowne Plaza Pregame Show beginning at 6:50 p.m.