GARY, IN – Juan Martinez hit a game-winning home run to carry the Lincoln Saltdogs (58-38) to a 3-1 win over the Gary SouthShore RailCats (54-43) and clinch the American Association Central Division Championship.
This is the Saltdogs’ fifth division championship and first since 2014. The Saltdogs will make their tenth trip to the playoffs in their 17-year history.
The Saltdogs jumped ahead in the first inning. Cesar Valera and Joe Robbins had back-to-back singles then Christian Ibarra walked to load the bases. Nathaniel Maggio hit a grounder to the right side to score Valera for the first run.
Brian Smith was great in his second start for the Saltdogs. He allowed one unearned run over 5.2 innings. He surrendered just six hits on the night.
Smith had the help of solid defense. The Saltdogs turned two double plays, threw a runner out at the plate and caught one in a pickle.
The RailCats scored their only run in the sixth inning. Cameron Newell notched a two-out single off of Smith to start it. J.R. Bunda came in and allowed a base hit to Kris Goodman to score Newell. Goodman was thrown out trying to get second base.
The Saltdogs regained the lead in the top of the seventh. Brandon Jacobs started the frame with a walk and was replaced by Brent Dean on a fielder’s choice. With two outs, Juan Martinez launched a home run over the left field fence to give the Saltdogs the lead for good.
Casey Crosby and Cameron McVey combined to toss scoreless seventh and eighth innings to get to closer Michael Wagner. The right-hander allowed a walk and a single but got three strikeouts to notch his 21st save of the season.
The Saltdogs have three games left in the regular season before the playoffs begin. The first round begins on Wednesday, September 6th. Stay tuned to saltdogs.com and Saltdogs social media for details on playoff ticket packages.
Game two against the RailCats is on Saturday night. First pitch is at 6:10 PM with coverage beginning at 5:40 PM on ESPN 1480 and saltdogs.com.
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