GARY — It all finally came together on the mound for Railcats’ starting pitcher Marshall Pautsch on Sunday afternoon at U.S. Steel Yard.
After recording three straight no-decisions to start his professional career, Pautsch notched his first pro victory in a convincing 9-4 win over the Salina Stockade.
“It’s obviously a full-team effort, as I didn’t have my best stuff (Sunday),” said Pautsch, a 6-foot-4 right-hander from California. “The offense was unreal — nine runs — you should get that win every time. The defense played great, too.”
The Railcats, who are just two game out of first place in the American Association's Central Division, scored single runs in the first and second innings before breaking the game open in the third. Randy Santiesteban and James Alfonso began the third with doubles to start the rally.
Chase Harris belted a two-run double off the left-field fence to give the Railcats a 6-2 lead. He scored on a two-run single by Collin Willis.
“I was feeling good at the plate,” said Harris, who went 3-for-5 with three RBIs. “I was just trying to be simple and let my hands work. It worked out more times than not (Sunday).”
Pautsch got a shutdown inning in the fourth, retiring the Stockade in order. He followed it up with a 1-2-3 fifth, as well.
“That’s important,” he said. “When you put up five runs, they’re already starting to knock themselves down. If you can get a quick inning and then get back on offense and score again, it makes them start to crumble. I was talking to Fonzie (Alfonso), our catcher, and he said, ‘We need to get a quick inning here. That will bury them.’ I think that was the most important inning.”
Pautsch gave up two runs, one earned, in the sixth on two RailCat errors, but the hosts got those back in the bottom of the inning. He scattered six hits over seven innings, striking out two and got a lot of flyball outs.
“They were a very aggressive team, and we just wanted to go right at ‘em because they were going to get themselves out,” Pautsch said. “They’re going to swing at those borderline pitches a lot more than others.”
Pautsch, who helped California Lutheran win the NCAA Division III title, threw 82 pitches, 56 for strikes, as the Railcats swept the three-game series.
“He continues to impress us,” RailCats manager Greg Tagert said. “Anytime you come off the pedigree that he has, … regardless of the level, Division I, Division II, Major League Baseball, there’s something to it when you have that kind of success. The young man did his part (Sunday)..”
The RailCats (32-24) have today off before starting a three-game series with Cleburne on Tuesday. They will build on a three-game win streak.
“Definitely, we’ve got this big home stand here,” Harris said. “We need some wins here and keep it rolling.”