GARY | Billy Spottiswood threw nine complete innings of baseball that put the RailCats within a win of the American Association championship series.
Spottiswood’s 110 pitches included 78 strikes, three of which were recorded as hits.
The first hit, a leadoff home run by Fargo-Moorhead's Zach Penprase in the first inning, set a tone that Spottiswood shook off.
His team re-tuned the game for him, scoring three runs in the bottom of the first inning for a lead that held in a 3-1 win that was finished in under two hours.
“That’s a big tip to the hitters. I give up one to the first batter, he got it, got a lot of it, and we score three to follow that up,” Spottiswood said. “That’s momentum in our favor.”
The RedHawks put just four runners on base, including the homer by Penprase. After a leadoff single in the fifth inning, Spottiswood and the RailCats defense didn’t allow another runner to reach base.
The RailCats retired 15 straight RedHawks batters, including three of Spottiswood's five strikeouts.
It was the first complete game of Spottiswood's professional career. He had been a reliever until this season.
Craig Maddox hit a bases-clearing triple in the first to give the RailCats all the runs they’d need. Gary scattered five hits, but like Spottiswood and the RailCats, Fargo-Moorhead starter Brian Ernst and the RedHawks didn’t allow a base runner after the fifth.
Ernst also pitched a complete game, striking out seven and walking one. Spottiswood walked one.
“You get into a groove and you don’t even realize stuff like that happens. Craig and I were in a groove and throwing pitches right where I wanted it,” Spottiswood said. “We had some great defense … it feels good to pitch when you’ve got great defense.”
Adam Klein hit a fifth-inning double, the last of the RailCats hits for the night.
The RailCats take the 2-1 advantage in the best-of-five series, with the final two games to be played at U.S. Steel Yard.
“It’s a good win. We needed that to put us ahead in the series,” Spottiswood said. “Hopefully we can finish it (today).”