GARY | David Cooper watched lefty Jack Spradlin warm up in the Amarillo bullpen.
The RailCats' shortstop keyed in on his offspeed pitches and took notice of his location.
On the first pitch Cooper saw, he lay down a two-out, ninth-inning bunt that scored the winning run as the RailCats topped the Sox 9-8 Tuesday.
“This is RailCat baseball,” Cooper said. “You hear a lot about it, but that’s really what it is: small ball. We’re not going to hit the home run, but we’ll score.”
Down 8-5 entering the ninth, the ‘Cats were walked three times and hit four infield singles.
All nine batters took a turn in the inning.
“I think clubs that don’t pay a lot of attention to David don’t know to expect the bunt,” manager Greg Tagert said. “I don’t think there’s an at-bat that David goes up to the plate and doesn’t think about bunting.”
The win was the first for the RailCats against Amarillo this season after losing a three-game June series in Texas. The Sox are in second in the American Association's South Division and the RailCats are tied for third in the Central Division.
Before the game, Tagert said that he’s told his team that the remaining games will be used as evaluation for the 2013 season.
Cooper, who was put in the shortstop role after Kyle Haines was traded, was credited with his 24th RBI of the season.
"We want to replenish with talented players who want to be here and understand what we want to accomplish," Tagert said before the game. "We have to have players who believe in what we've done in the past and feel that playing for the RailCats is the next best thing to playing in the big leagues.
"From time to time this year we've had guys that don't believe that, and they're not here anymore."
The RailCats took a 1-0 lead in the first inning, then fell behind 4-2. After tying the game at 4-4, starter Morgan Coombs allowed three runs in the fifth inning and reliever Tyler Deetjen, a Valparaiso University grad who was credited with the win, gave up another run in the seventh.
Cooper and No. 8 hitter Zac Mitchell, who tied a franchise record for walks in a game with four, were each credited with two RBIs.
“Even in the ninth, we know we’re going to put up a fight,” Cooper said. “It’s better for us when we’re fighting back.”