I found out that a local kid was going to be pitching in Gary today earlier this week so I had planned to make a trip to the murder capitol to check things out. I have only been to two Railcat games before today. They are probably the closest team to me time wise, but I still have trouble going to Gary to see them. U.S. Steel Yard is a nice field, but part of that may be the fact that the players here are on the way out. The players in South Bend have a much better shot at hitting the big time. When I woke up this morning I checked the forecast, and during the hours that the game would be played there was an 80% chance of thundershowers. I almost did not go because the cell was at the state line, and was big enough that it could not miss. It split in two though, and went above and below Gary leaving the ballpark high and dry. When the sun came out it was actually a perfect day to see a ballgame.
The game itself was not as dramatic as the weather. Joliet defeated Gary 7-1. This game would have been a lot closer if it had not been for Joliet getting the big hit. Six of their seven runs came with two outs. Gary’s at bat in the bottom of the eighth would have been a lot more exciting had the Gary pitchers closed out a couple of innings. Only a solo home run to start the 5th by Phil Avlas (pictured to the right) stopped all the runs from being scored with two down. LaPorte native Brad Mumma pitched 7 2/3 innings to give the Jackhammers the cushion that they needed. I will have a little more about Brad tomorrow. The local kid deserves his own post. A two out home run by Freddie Thon got the Jackhammers on the board in the 3rd. That would be all that they would need. The Jackhammers had two bunt hits on the day, and both of those runners scored. Their timely hitting was the difference today.
Another interesting fact about the day were the coaches for Joliet. Wally Backman is the manager, and Floyd Youmans is the pitching coach. Before the game I was down by the Joliet bullpen listening to Floyd drop the F-bomb like it was his job. He really enjoys that word. I even heard him use it as an adjective to itself. Backman on the other hand is the old school manager. He spends his time in between innings in the dugout hot boxing a cigarette. Can’t have a nicotine fit while you are coaching third can you. He was a pleasure to watch play though, and it was cool to see him again. As you can see by the picture to the right he is telling his team that it is time for another smoke. Lets get this inning over. The Joliet uniforms are very reminiscent of the old Mets away uniforms in color at least. I wonder if Wally had anything to do with that.