Press Releases

American Association Semifinals Preview: Wichita vs. Gary

09/05/2017 3:26 PM -

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: (September 5, 2017)
Contact: Jared Shlensky
jshlensky@railcatsbaseball.com

Schedule

Wednesday, September 6th (Game 1): Wichita @ Gary, 7:10 p.m.

RHP Danny Gutierrez (1-1, 1.69) vs. RHP Ayrton Costa (2-4, 6.47)

Thursday, September 7th (Game 2): Wichita @ Gary, 7:10 p.m.

RHP Alex Boshers (11-4, 3.72) vs. LHP Jeff McKenzie (4-4, 3.72)

Saturday, September 9th (Game 3): Gary @ Wichita, 7:05 p.m.

TBA vs. RHP Eddie Medina (9-3, 3.09)

Sunday, September 10th (Game 4): Gary @ Wichita, 5:05 p.m. (IF NECESSARY)

TBA vs. RHP Jordan Cooper (8-2, 3.98)

Monday, September 11th (Game 5): Gary @ Wichita, 7:05 p.m. (IF NECESSARY)

TBA vs. TBA

 

Audio: WEFM (95.9 FM)/railcatsbaseball.com

Video: www.americanassociationbaseball.tv

Game updates via Twitter: @railcats

 

Playoff Series Record: Gary leads, 3-1

The last time these two teams met in the postseason: The only time Gary and Wichita have played one another in the American Association playoffs was back in the 2013 Championship Series, which Gary won in four games for their third and most recent league title. The RailCats defeated the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks in the league semifinals in four games while the Wingnuts swept Grand Prairie to advance to the Championship series. Similar to the 2017 season, Gary squeaked into the playoffs as the Wild Card seed in ’13 after finishing with a 58-41 record. Wichita won the Central Division, finishing 9.5 games ahead of Gary, and won a league-best 68 games.

2017 Regular Season Series: Gary took two of three against Wichita from July 11th to July 13th in Kansas during the only series between the two teams in the regular season. The RailCats won the first game of the series, 5-3, before winning the middle game of the series, 6-4, in 12 innings. Wichita avoided the sweep with a 10-4 victory in the series finale.

How both teams got here: Wichita advanced to the American Association Semifinals for the seventh straight season after winning the South Division for the fourth consecutive season. The Wingnuts finished with the second best record in the league at 61-38 and have won their last six games. Down to the final game of the regular season, the Gary SouthShore RailCats needed more than just a win to win the Wild Card and clinch a playoff berth. The RailCats had to defeat the Lincoln Saltdogs and needed Fargo-Moorhead to lose to Winnipeg. Both happened on Monday afternoon after Gary walked-off over Lincoln for the second straight game with a 3-2 win while the RedHawks fell to the reigning champion Winnipeg Goldeyes, 8-3. Gary, Fargo-Moorhead and Kansas City all finished 57-43 during the regular season, however, Gary beat both Fargo-Moorhead (10 out of 13) and Kansas City (seven out of 13) to win the Wild Card via the team’s head-to-head winning record against both teams.

Scouting Wichita:  The Wingnuts had three players named to the American Association Postseason All-Star Team (Martin Media, Catcher; Matt Chavez, First Baseman; Richard Prigatano, Outfielder) on Saturday and had four American Association Midseason All-Stars (Harrison Kain, Outfielder; TJ Mittelstaedt, IF/OF; Chavez, First Baseman; Medina; Catcher). Medina finished 10th in the league with a .314 average and threw out 22 of 67 (33%) of baserunners. Chavez led the league with 84 RBIs and finished with the second best batting average at .330.  Mittelstaedt led the league with a .436 on-base percentage and drew a league-high 83 walks. The utility player also finished second in the league with eight triples and 83 runs.

Scouting Gary: Gary has a league-high 16 rookies on their roster and had pitcher Charle Rosario and shortstop Ryan Fitzgerald represent the RailCats in the American Association/Can-Am All-Star Game. Fitzgerald finished tied for fourth in the league with six triples and batted .239 with seven home runs and 20 RBIs in his first season of professional baseball. Rosario was traded to the Winnipeg Goldeyes on August 10th for RHP Daniel Minor, cash considerations and four players to be named later. Outfielder Colin Willis was named the league’s Rookie of the Year and is just the second RailCat to be named Rookie of the Year and the first since Mike Rohde won it back in 2008 (Northern League). Willis finished seventh in the league with a .319 batting average and led Gary during the regular season in runs (54), hits (96), home runs (eight), total bases (145), OBP (.407), slugging percentage (.482) and OPS (.889)

Breaking down the Pitching Staffs: Wichita finished second in the league with a 3.65 ERA and issued the fewest amount of walks (228) in the American Association. Reliever Ryan Kussmaul and starter Eddie Medina rank in the top of the AA in ERA while Tyler Kane and Alex Boshers rank in the top five in wins. Boshers is also tied for third in the league in complete games (three). Gary led the league with 30 saves and finished fifth with a 4.01 ERA. Alex Gunn set a league-record with 25 starts this season and Daniel Minor, who was acquired from Winnipeg in the Rosario trade on August 10th, went 3-1 with a 1.47 ERA in seven games (six starts) with the RailCats. Drasen Johnson led Gary with 12 saves and walked just seven batters (two intentional) in 44 innings.

Polar opposite approaches on offense: Wichita finished with one of the more potent offenses in the American Association during the regular season. The Wingnuts led the league in runs (617), RBIs (572), walks (414) and on-base percentage (.375) and were second in batting average (.294), hits (997), doubles (182), total bases (1,461), sacrifice flies (44), slugging percentage (.430) and OPS (.805). Gary finished with the second fewest amount of home runs (39), however, the RailCats led the AA with 31 triples and were third in the league with 124 stolen bases. Gary also set the American Association single-season record for most one-run wins in a season with their 22nd one-run win over Lincoln on Labor Day.

Former MLB Players shine on both teams: Right-handed pitcher Jorge De Leon (Gary) and designated hitter Brent Clevlen (Wichita) enter this series as the only two players in the series to have MLB experience. De Leon leads the team with nine wins and is second on the team with 10 saves in his second season with the RailCats. De Leon spent parts of two seasons with the Houston Astros and made his MLB debut with the Astros in 2013. The 29-year-old also became the first pitcher in over a century to retire the side on three pitches after setting the Cincinnati Reds down in order in the 12th inning on September 18, 2013. Clevlen hit .302 with nine home runs and 79 RBIs in his fifth season with the Wingnuts and hit with three home runs and seven RBIs in 59 career MLB games (Detroit, 55; Atlanta, 4).

Glancing at both team’s Managers: Pete Rose, Jr. returns to the postseason for the second straight season after losing to the Winnipeg Goldeyes last season in the American Association Championship series. Rose Jr. got his start managing in 2011 with the Great Falls Voyagers (Rookie, Chicago White Sox) and managed in White Sox’ minor league system for four seasons. Rose Jr. played professional baseball for 13 seasons, including 11 games for the Cincinnati Reds in 1997. Greg Tagert returns to the playoffs for the eighth time in his career with Gary and the first time since 2013 after winning the Wild Card on the final day of the regular season. Tagert has won three league championships (’05, ’07 & ’13) and has finished with a .500 or better record in 22 of his 23 seasons as a manager. Before starting his managerial career in 1995, Tagert worked as a scout for the Detroit Tigers and as a pitching coach at the University of New Mexico.

How to purchase tickets: Postseason tickets are available to purchase online at railcatsbaseball.com. Box seat tickets cost $11, reserved seats cost $10 and terrace seats are just $6 for the first two games of the American Association Semifinals. Fans can also purchase tickets for RailCats home games by calling (219) 882-BALL or by stopping by the RailCats box office. The RailCats box office is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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