PRO BASEBALL

RailCats fans make trek for American Association Championship Series

2013-09-13T21:15:00Z 2013-09-14T03:28:04Z RailCats fans make trek for American Association Championship SeriesHillary Smith hillary.smith@nwi.com, (219) 933-3233 nwitimes.com
September 13, 2013 9:15 pm  • 

WICHITA, Kan. | Garry Sknerski made a flight plan out of Wichita for today.

"I plan for the best," said Sknerski, a RailCats season ticket holder and usher. "That they'll win it."

The Highland resident took off from Chicago Midway on Friday morning for the American Association Championship Series final three games in Wichita, Kan., that began with Friday's Game 3. 

"I'm just a big fan," Sknerski said. "I would love to celebrate with the boys. I've been with them all year, I can't stop now."

The RailCats drew fans from around the country to their game. In addition to a suite full of season-ticket holders and front office personnel, the RailCats players' families attended the game.

The parents of third baseman Brian Kolb met with Gary Kolb's childhood friend John Wilheim, who lives in Wichita.

"I'm torn who to root for," Wilhelm said.

"Oh, you'll know who to root for," said Patty Kolb.

For the parents, this was a career culmination to watch their son in a playoff.

"I've watched Brian play baseball since he was 6 years old," Gary Kolb said. "We don't get to see him very much, living in San Diego, so it was a great opportunity to watch him play in the playoffs."

Melissa Hill, the girlfriend of RailCats outfielder Adam Klein, watched the game with Klein's parents.

"It's been really nice to watch him the past four years and make a lot of good friends, and now get to be here is really fantastic," Hill said. "I'm glad to get to be a part of it."

Tim Blatnicky, who portrays Rascal during the season, said that the trip was especially meaningful for him.

"I wanted to finish what I started this year," Blatnicky said.

The 50-year-old said that he had open-heart surgery in January, spent 13 days in intensive care and told his wife that he wanted to be back for the season opener on May 16.

"One of the driving forces during my recovery was to be ready in time for the start of the season," Blatnicky said. "There is too much emotionally invested not to see it through to the end."

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