GARY | Mike Rohde's baseball career has been mostly injury free.
So sitting nearly three weeks on the bench with an oblique strain was hard enough for the RailCats first baseman, but it turned into a learning experience as his team surged ahead to win four consecutive series.
"It's been fun to watch, but at the same time I wanted to get in there and help out and help us win," Rohde said. "It was definitely a new thing too, I'd never experienced it sitting for a long time. I learned some things mentally, but I definitely wanted to get back out there and help out."
The team took its fifth straight series victory Saturday upon Rohde's return from the disabled list with an 11-4 win over Sioux Falls.
Rohde, who was the 2008 Northern League Rookie of the Year and has been with the RailCats for five seasons, went 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
The RailCats reached .500 for the first time since June 13 with the win, hitting a 43-43 record. The 'Cats are also 5 1/2 games out of the American Association's wild card position with a loss by Winnipeg on Saturday. That's the goal for the team, Rohde said.
"We're not taking too much stock in (.500). We're not emphasizing it too much," Rohde said. "For us, .500 is not good enough. It's nice, but we want to be 10-15 games over that point. It's a nice milestone for how the season went so far, but our vision and goals are way beyond that."
Leadoff hitter Adam Klein went 1-for-2 with two runs, two walks (setting a franchise mark for base-on-balls) and an RBI. Mike Massaro, hitting No. 2, was 2-for-5 with three runs and two RBIs as the RailCats opened the game with two runs in the first and another five in the second inning.
"It's no secret that when Adam Klein and Mike Massaro get us going in the early stages of the game. That's when we're at our best," RailCats manager Greg Tagert said. "It gets the whole club going. I think it helped Morgan Coombs settle in and gets the whole team going."
Starting pitcher Coombs threw 6 1/3 shutout innings for his fifth win of the season, and reliever Dexter Carter struck out three in 1 2/3 innings of work.
The Pheasants scored four runs off of closer Estevan Uriegas in the ninth to end the shutout.
Before the game, the RailCats put Valparaiso University grad Jon Gulbransen on the disabled list with bicep tendonitis. Tagert said he plans to put 10 days rest between Gulbransen's last start Friday and his next start.