GARY | Wichita has a lineup most teams envy. The RailCats do not.
Which is why the RailCats were able to roll through five Wingnuts relievers Tuesday night and starter Junior Guerra, who touches the mid-90s regularly on the radar.
“We’re not your typical ballclub,” RailCats second baseman Danny Pulfer said. “The typical lineup is what you want to look for in pro ball and is what they’ve got: guys who can hit home runs at any time in the lineup, speed guys at the bottom to get back to the top, (David) Amberson is a nightmare for us.
"When you’re facing us we’re going to take pitches on you, we’re going to grind out at-bats, we’re going to get a cheap hit here and there. We use the whole bat, whole field, all the time.
"That’s RailCat baseball.”
Pulfer hit two of the RailCats 17 hits -- both doubles -- in their 9-4 win over Wichita in the first game of the American Association Championship Series.
They racked up the runs against a pitching corps that had three straight shutouts so far in the postseason.
“It was just a great job by the club,” manager Greg Tagert said. “We got some hits off Guerra, and that extra day or two rest from his last start, he was tough. He is the one starting pitcher in this league that has that dominant stuff, and I thought our club did an excellent job.”
The RailCats scored in many of the same small-ball ways that put them in the postseason.
A broken-bat single opened the bottom of the sixth inning, after which the ‘Cats took a 3-1 lead with a bases-loaded walk and a bunt single.
When Wingnuts second baseman Jake Kahaulelio hit a three-run homer in the seventh to regain the lead at 4-3, the RailCats offense shook off the momentum change.
“Whether it’s their competitive fire, or resiliency or whatever you call it, that big blow by Kahaulelio is going to knock a lot of teams out,” Tagert said.
The ‘Cats took advantage of Wichita’s use of multiple pitchers, loading the bases on back-to-back singles by Reid Fronk and pinch hitter Ryan Babineau and a walk to Nick Liles, who also entered as a pinch hitter.
Fronk scored when Zac Mitchell was hit by a pitch, and Danny Pulfer hit his second double of the night to give the RailCats a 6-4 lead. Adam Klein’s sac fly gave Gary a 7-4 lead. Klein was 1-for-3 through the seventh, and had three RBIs.
The Wingnuts had used four relievers through seven innings after the RailCats chased Guerra in the sixth.
RailCats starter Alain Quijano lasted 6 2/3 innings, striking out five and allowing four runs, including the homer.