LINCOLN — Both clubs got terrific starting pitching, and the Saltdogs (42-37) found a way to scratch a couple runs across in the eighth to edge the Gary SouthShore RailCats (46-32) 2-1 in front of 4,105 fans at Haymarket Park Friday night.
Gary took a 1-0 lead with two outs in the top of the eighth on a very close play at first, which led to manager Ken Oberkfell's ejection.
Lincoln led off the inning with Tyler Goodro drawing a walk. Sunday's scheduled starter Pete Parise, an outfielder in college, came in to pinch run, and scored the tying run on a Mike Coles double and error by the RailCats right fielder Mike Massaro.
The Saltdogs took the lead the very next batter when Coles made a nifty hook slide into home on a shallow sacrifice fly to center by David Espinosa.
P.J. Zocchi (5-0) allowed a run on three hits in one inning and picked up the win. Taylor Sewitt (4-1) surrendered a unearned run on one hit in 2/3 of an inning to take the loss. R.J. Rodriguez worked a scoreless ninth to nail down his 26th save, extending the franchise record.
Lincoln starter Moises Melendez pitched seven outstanding innings, allowing no runs on just four hits, striking out five and walking one.
The win pulls the 'Dogs to within 4 1/2 games of Gary in the wildcard race. The clubs are back at it Saturday night at 7:05 p.m. for game two of the three-game set. Radio coverage begins at 6:35 p.m. on KFOR 1240.