Pro baseball

RailCats take division lead on controversial call

2013-05-21T15:00:00Z 2013-05-22T00:59:03Z RailCats take division lead on controversial callHillary Smith hillary.smith@nwi.com, (219) 933-3233 nwitimes.com

GARY | After Brian Kolb fractured the middle finger on his glove hand, he went to the doctor to run a few tests.

The swelling in the fractured finger -- the injury which occurred during a slide on RailCats opening day -- had diminished enough that it shouldn't impact his athletic ability, the doctor said.

"I pretty much only heard the 'you can still play' part," Kolb said. "Skip had a bunch of questions for me when I got back, and I couldn't answer any of them. He had to call the doctor back."

Though RailCats manager Greg Tagert wasn't planning to put the third baseman into the lineup anytime soon, Kolb said all the right things Monday night to talk his way into the No. 6 spot.

In his first game back since last week's season opener, Kolb helped make all the difference for the RailCats, going 2-for-2 with a walk and the game-winning run in his team's 2-1 victory over Wichita.

"The win helps you feel better," Kolb said. "It helps a lot."

The RailCats keep around players like Danny Pulfer, who played at third base for the four games that Kolb was out, for injury disturbances such as this.

Kolb earned a regular spot in the starting lineup in 2011 when then-third baseman Jeff Beachum jammed his thumb and tore a ligament diving for a catch. 

"I don't know if (Kolb) talked me into playing as we talked (Monday) night, but we're going to trust our doctors," Tagert said. "We're a better club when he's in the lineup. There's no doubt about it."

The game-winning run came in the fourth inning, when Craig Maddox singled, followed by Kolb's first hit of the game. Drew Martinez then doubled into left field, a ball that left fielder Cold Loehrs claimed to have caught, but the umpire ruled fair.

Running on the crack of the bat, Maddox and Kolb scored just as Wichita manager Kevin Hooper ran out of the dugout to argue the call. Hooper was eventually ejected, and the double -- and subsequent runs -- stood.

"The umpire called it a hit," Kolb said. "I coach in the offseason, and I tell our guys, make the umpires stop you, make the umpires stop you. I was going hard, and I saw him dive, and I peeked at the umpire and saw the safe call and kept going."

Tagert said that he isn't sure how many consecutive days Kolb will remain in the lineup while his finger is fractured. Kolb is taping the middle two fingers together while he bats and said it hasn't impacted his catching.

In his first at-bat, he lost control of the bat, and it flew out of his hands and hit the backstop. He said the lost grip was the result of not enough pine tar on the handle, not his grip on the bat.

"That had nothing to do with my hand. I just needed some pine tar," Kolb said. "I was worried that's what everyone was going to think."

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