Carlo Cota drove in four runs as the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks defeated the Gary SouthShore RailCats 4-3 on a chilly Thursday afternoon at Newman Outdoor Field. The win gives Fargo-Moorhead a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series that will now shift to Gary for the third, and if necessary, fourth and fifth games.
The RailCats (0-2) started the scoring in the top half of the second inning. Second baseman Louis Ott doubled down the left field line and advanced to third on an errant pickoff attempt by Fargo-Moorhead starting pitcher Jake Laber. First baseman Mike Rohde later singled through the right side of the infield to plate Ott and give Gary an early 1-0 lead.
The RedHawks (2-0) answered in the home half of the fourth. Eric Campbell reached base on a throwing error by Gary shortstop Jay Pecci. RailCats starter Nolan Nicholson then hit Jeremiah Piepkorn with a pitch and walked designated hitter Jesse Hoorelbeke to load the bases for Cota. Cota drove a Nicholson offering to the warning track in deep center field, scoring both Campbell and Jackson on a sacrifice fly and giving the RedHawks a 2-1 lead.
Fargo-Moorhead would tack on two more runs in the sixth. Campbell singled and left fielder Jay Cox walked to put runners on first and second for Cota. Cota again game through with big hit, lining a pitch over the head of Gary left fielder Adam Klein and scoring two to extend the lead to 4-1.
The RailCats were able to cut into the lead in the top of the eighth. Klein led off the frame with a triple to right-center field. He then scored on a grounder to short by Mike Massaro. Third baseman Tanner Townsend would later double and come around to score on an RBI-single by designated hitter Randall Simon to trim the lead to 4-3.
Gary had a chance to tie the game in the ninth but the RailCats were unable to capitalize. Pecci led off the inning by hitting a slow roller down the first base line that was fielded by RedHawks first baseman Jeremiah Piepkorn. Piepkorn flipped the ball to pitcher Casey Hoorelbeke, who was covering first base. Hoorelbeke missed the bag, allowing Pecci to reach base safely. Pecci then put himself in scoring position by moving to second base on a ground ball by Rohde. With Gary’s Chris Carrera at the plate, Hoorelbeke picked Pecci off second to end the threat.
Fargo-Moorhead got an outstanding effort from starting pitcher Laber (1-0). The southpaw went 7.2 innings and threw 123 pitches in the process. He limited the RailCats to just three runs on seven hits while striking out five and walking two.
Despite limiting a potent RedHawks lineup to just four hits on the day, Gary starter Nicholson was saddled with the loss. He allowed all four Fargo-Moorhead runs (two earned) while striking out five and issuing three free passes.
Cota was 1-for-3 while racking up his four RBI.
Townsend had a nice game at the plate for Gary, going 3-for-4 and scoring a run.
Game 3 will be played at U.S. Steel Yard in Gary starting tomorrow night at 7:00pm. The RailCats will look to end their losing skid by sending ace Willie Glen (11-2, 2.39) to the hill. Fargo-Moorhead has yet to announce a starting pitcher.
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