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Fitzgerald’s extra-innings, 3-run walk-off homer gives RailCats 9-7 win

Contact: Jared Shlensky
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Box Score

GARY, Ind. — Ryan Fitzgerald’s three-run, walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th gave the Gary SouthShore RailCats a 9-7 come-from-behind win on Saturday night over the Sioux City Explorers. The home run was Fitzgerald’s first professional homer and was Gary’s third walk-off win in their last six games.

Down 7-6 entering the bottom of the 10th, Alex Crosby started the inning with a single to center. Kris Goodman then replaced him as a pinch-runner and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Colin Willis then floated a soft single to center as a pinch-hitter, giving Gary runners on the corners. Behind in the count, Fitzgerald sent a season-high 4,382 fans home happy with a three-run, walk-off home run, and the RailCats first homer at U.S. Steel Yard.

Gary trailed 6-2 with two outs in the eighth and scored all of their runs in the first nine innings with two outs. For the second straight night, Sioux City scored in the top of the first to take an early lead. Jayce Ray recorded the first hit of the game with a one-out single before the reigning American Association Player of Year Nate Samson drew a four-pitch walk. Ray and Samson then executed the double steal before John Nogowski laced the 3-0 pitch into center for a two-run single.

Gary (13-10) cut the deficit to one with their first in the bottom of the first. Chase Harris drew a five-pitch walk before swiping second for his team-leading eighth stolen base. Two batters later, Frank Martinez poked a double down the first base line, scoring Harris from second for his team-leading 21st RBI.

Sioux City (13-7) went in front by three with a pair of runs in the top of the third. Michael Lang reached on a Gary fielding error before Ray drew a walk. The Explorers pulled off the double steal for the second time after Lang swiped third and Ray took second. Samson made it 3-1 with an RBI groundout, bringing home Lang. With the infield all the way in and the outfield playing deep, Nogowski popped a high fly ball into shallow right-center, falling for an RBI single.

The RailCats trimmed the Explorers lead to 4-2 in the bottom of the third Reggie Wilson extended his personal-best on-base streak to nine with a two-out single to right. Wilson then stole second before Anthony Cheky Jr. plated Wilson with a sharp RBI single to center.

The Explorers took their biggest lead at four with a pair of runs in the seventh. Ray reached base for the third time after singling to center to begin the inning. Samson followed with an RBI triple to the right-center wall, bringing around Ray for the third time. Nogowski made it 6-2 with a sacrifice fly to center, the final of his four RBIs.

Gary used four straight hits to score three runs in the eighth to make it 6-5.Wilfredo Gimenez made it 6-3 with an RBI infield single before Randy Santiesteban cut the deficit to one with a two-run double off the left field wall, scoring both Crosby and Gimenez. Still down 6-5, Harris reached in the ninth on a full-swing bunt right in front of home plate, however, an errant throw from catcher Dylan Kelly sailed past first, allowing Harris to move up to second. Down to their final strike, Cheky Jr. roped an RBI single into right-center, scoring Harris for the game-tying run.

Jorge De Leon (2-0) recorded the win with two innings of relief. The former Houston Astro right-hander allowed one run on four hits and struck out one. Keith Picht (1-2) suffered the loss after retiring only three of the four batters he faced in the bottom of the 10th.

The RailCats conclude their seven-game homestand vs. the Explorers on Sunday afternoon at 2:10 p.m. Southpaw Braulio Torres-Perez (2-0, 4.42) counters against Sioux City left-hander Kramer Sneed (0-1, 7.36) in his second start of the season vs. Gary in the series finale. Sunday’s game features a Pre-Game Catch on the Field and the return of the NorthShore Health Fair. Bring a ball and glove for your chance to play catch on the field before the game and visit the NorthShore tables around the stadium with information, health testing and more.

Jared Shlensky and Austin Anderson bring you all 100 RailCats games this season on WEFM (95.9FM) and online at Fans can purchase tickets for RailCats home games by calling (219) 882-BALL or online at The RailCats box office is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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