GARY | After winning four of their last five series, the RailCats took a step backward Friday night facing the hottest team in the American Association.
The ‘Cats committed three errors for the first time since July 18 and allowed four unearned runs in an 11-3 loss to Fargo-Moorhead.
“All the work we’ve done in the last week didn’t translate tonight,” RailCats manager Greg Tagert said. “That was about as bad in every aspect. We made mistakes defensively, and that led to a big inning.”
The three-game series that continues today is the only time this season the two former Northern League foes will meet. The RedHawks are the top team in the American Association with a 42-23 record, having won 33 of their last 39 games. The RailCats are struggling to maintain their hold on third place in the Central Division with a 30-36 record.
The game marked the first time RailCats outfielder and Hammond High grad Mike Coles faced the RedHawks after three seasons and two Northern League championships with the team.
RailCats starter and Valparaiso University grad Jon Gulbransen allowed his first earned runs in 10 innings when he gave up a pair in the third and then allowed a grand slam in the fourth inning. The ’Cats defense helped load the bases with an error as one of the four runs was unearned.
RedHawks right fielder Ryan Stovall, who hit the grand slam, went 3-for-5 with two runs, the homer, a triple and six RBIs.
“I’m surprised and disappointed at the same time,” Tagert said. “As well as we’ve played, especially defensively, to make the errors we made on the field. … We’ve got to be able to shut it down after a mistake and neither young pitcher did that tonight in Gulbransen and (reliever) Marshall Schuler.”
The RailCats tried to counter with three unearned runs in the fifth inning, all scoring with two out. The offense was limited to six hits as Mike Massaro extended his hitting streak to nine games.
“We had our chances with the bases loaded and couldn’t capitalize,” Tagert said. “We can’t count on those two guys every time (Massaro and Adam Klein), and we need other guys in that lineup to start generating some offense. It just hasn’t happened.”