LINCOLN — Former East High Spartan standout Jesse Smith wowed in his Haymarket homecoming and the Saltdogs (4-2) held on late against the Gary SouthShore RailCats (3-4) 3-2 in front of 2,552 fans Wednesday night.
Smith (1-0) pitched 6 1/3 stingy innings, allowing just three hits while striking out three to earn the victory. The 34-year old All-Nebraska alum allowed just one base runner in his first 18 batters faced.
The Saltdogs, leading 3-0 going to the ninth, allowed two runs and let the possible tying run get into scoring position before Kaohi Downing struck out pinch-hitter Michael Vaughn to save the game.
Jon Gaston provided the big hit, smoking a two-run double down the right field line in the three-run fifth after Gary intentionally walked Brian Joynt to load the bases.
Gaston finished the night 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI. Ryan Lashley went 2-for-4 with a double.
Andy Roberts (0-1) yielded three runs in 4 1/3 innings on five hits to suffer the loss.
Conor Spink provided 1 2/3 innings of scoreless middle relief for the Saltdogs.
The clubs play the finale of the four-game series Thursday night at 6:35 p.m. LHP Moises Melendez (0-0, 0.00) is expected to start for Lincoln against RHP Travis McGee (0-0, 1.80). Radio coverage begins at 6:05 p.m. on KFOR 1240 and the video feed streams online at www.americanassociationbaseball.tv.
It’s the first Thirsty Thursday of the season! Come out to Haymarket Park for $1 Pepsi products and beer specials beginning at just $1. Get your tickets now at www.saltdogs.com.