GARY | Mike Massaro took nine pitches, trying to find the one he could turn into a home run.
Eventually, Amarillo pitcher Phil Barteleski blinked and walked the RailCats center fielder.
That set up Brian Kolb to hit a walk-off single and end the longest game in RailCats home-field history with a 5-4 win in 16 innings.
“At that point, we’re definitely tired. Our legs are tired, but the biggest thing is to mentally focus for that long,” said Kolb, whose single helped end the game at 12:19 a.m. “Mike Massaro had a great at-bat to open the inning, and at that point in the game, to have an at-bat that long, shows what kind of team we have.”
The longest game at U.S. Steel Yard was 21 innings during the NCAA Regional in June. The RailCats had not played a game longer than 14 innings in Gary, and the 16-inning win tied a franchise record.
The American Association has a curfew rule that requires teams to not start an inning past 11:59 at night. The 16th inning began at 11:58, guaranteeing that it would be the last no matter what.
“Obviously we’d much rather finish it than have to come back and play more,” Kolb said. “We did that already once this season, in New Jersey, and it really isn’t fun. I was more than happy to end the game today.”
The long game puts the RailCats in a bind, having used four pitchers, including two relievers for more than two innings each. Prior to the game, the RailCats released relievers Tyler Vaske and Tyler Deetjen, and manager Greg Tagert said that a move might have to be made before today’s game to replenish the bullpen.
The manager also didn’t rule out the idea of inserting Friday’s starter Alberto Rolon into the game to pitch his regularly-scheduled bullpen.
“We may look at the avenue of making a move to add another player,” Tagert said. “If I had to give out a champ of the game tonight, it would go to Esteban Uriegas and Dexter Carter.”
Carter picked up the win in his RailCats debut, throwing 2 2/3 innings, striking out three and allowing a walk. Uriegas threw 2 1/3 innings, striking out five and giving up three hits.
The RailCats took a 3-0 lead in the second inning, but the Sox put three runs on starter Will Krout in the fourth.
The Sox had a run nullified in the fifth inning when Derrick Pyles didn’t properly tag third base on a sac fly. The RailCats immediately appealed, and the run was removed.
Amarillo took a 4-3 lead in the top of the 11th inning, putting the first three runners on base with two singles and a fielder’s choice. The RailCats retaliated with a leadoff walk, and an Adam Klein single scored Zac Mitchell to continue the game.
The 'Cats left just three runners on base through the first six innings, then stranded 12 from the seventh inning on, including a bases-loaded seventh.
“We had a bunch of chances, but this is obviously one of those games that both teams had a bunch of chances,” Tagert said. “We decided after the 15th inning that we weren’t going to sac bunt anymore. It wasn’t working for us, so we weren’t going to keep after it.”
“I think we all expect ourselves to get the job done,” Kolb said. “The character of this team is that if it doesn’t happen, we do what we can to give ourselves another opportunity.”