LINCOLN, NE – The Lincoln Saltdogs had the tying run on base in the eighth and ninth innings but couldn’t get it across as they fell 10-9 to the Gary SouthShore RailCats on Tuesday night.
The Saltdogs (54-31) overcame a 10-3 deficit to get within striking distance in the final two innings. But, RailCats (49-38) closer Jorge de Leon recorded the final five outs to secure the win for Gary SouthShore.
The loss shortened the Saltdogs lead in the Central Division to six games over the RailCats and 6.5 games over the Kansas City T-Bones with 14 games remaining.
The Saltdogs gained the early lead thanks to home runs in the first two innings. Joe Robbins hit a solo shot in the first and Brent Dean smacked a two-run homer in the second. Both righties hit the home runs to right field.
The Saltdogs entered the decisive fifth inning with a 3-2 lead but it didn’t last. The RailCats scored eight runs on five hits to bust open the game. They sent 13 batters to the plate in the frame. Kris Goodman had a two-run homer that put the Cats in front and tacked on a sacrifice fly RBI in his second at bat of the inning. Saltdogs starter Derek Gordon and reliever Casey Crosby combined to hit or walk five batters in the fifth.
The offensive explosion in the fifth mirrored Monday’s game except with the other team. The Saltdogs scored a season-high eight runs in the bottom of the fifth to take the lead on Monday.
Robbins came through with a two-out RBI double in the sixth inning to cut the RailCats lead to 10-4
The Saltdogs broke out to make it close in the eighth. They scored five runs on four hits to cut the deficit to just one run. Robbins drove in one run while Cesar Valera and Curt Smith each drove in a pair. De Leon was inserted with a one run lead and Smith at third base with just one out. He calmly induced two grounders in two pitches to retire the side.
Christian Ibarra and Dean both reached in the bottom of the ninth to put the tying and winning runs on base. But, de Leon struck out Robbins to end the game.
The Saltdogs face the RailCats in the third game of the series on Wednesday morning. First pitch is at 11:00 AM with coverage beginning at 10:30 AM on ESPN 1480 and saltdogs.com. It is the Lincoln Public Schools day at the ballpark.
Tickets are on sale and can be purchased by calling (402) 474-2255 or visiting Saltdogs.com. For the latest information on the Saltdogs follow the team on Facebook and Twitter/Instagram @saltdogsball.