ROSEMONT, ILL. — The Gary SouthShore RailCats announced the signing of right-hander pitcher Chris Pennell prior to Tuesday’s series opener against the Chicago Dogs. With the trade of Sandy Lugo to the Cleburne Railroaders for cash on Monday, there were two opens spots on the 23-man active roster and Pennell fills one of the two openings as an arm out of the bullpen.
Pennell made his American Association debut in Tuesday’s 10-0 loss to Chicago with three innings of relief. The right-hander allowed just one run on four hits and two walks while striking out four. Pennell struck out the first two hitters he faced and retired four of the first five he saw.
Pennell played with the RailCats back in spring training but was traded to the Lake Erie Crushers of the Frontier League in exchange for a player to be named later on May 17th. After leaving Gary, Pennell signed with the Lake Erie Crushers, where he finished without a record in nine relief appearances, including five straight without allowing a run from May 21 to June 8. In 14.1 innings, Pennell allowed 13 runs on 15 hits and six walks while striking out 12.
The right-hander began his professional baseball career with the Rockland Boulders of the Can-Am League in 2018 following his senior season at St. Thomas Aquinas College. He went 1-0 with a 2.55 ERA in three starts with the Boulders. In 17.2 innings pitched, Pennell yielded five earned runs on 14 hits and four walks while striking out 12 batters.
However, Pennell finished the season with the Salina Stockade, where he went 1-0 with a 2.61 ERA in between three starts and three relief appearances. Pennell logged 20.2 innings, allowing six earned runs on 15 hits and seven walks while striking out 13.
Pennell joins his former college teammate Frank Moscatiello; both of whom played four years at St Thomas Aquinas College and graduated in 2018. In fact, both signed their first professional baseball contracts with the Rockland Boulders in 2018.
On Jan. 31, 2019, the Westchester, N.Y. native was traded to the Schaumburg Boomers of the Frontier League, the sister club of the RailCats. Within the next week, Gary acquired him via trade for a player to be named later.
Lugo appeared in 16 games with Gary and led all RailCats pitchers with six saves. The right-hander also posted three holds, a 1-2 record and a 1.37 ERA. In 19.2 innings, the right-hander allowed just three runs on 14 hits, 12 walks and two hit batsmen while striking out 31 batters.
A native of Las Matas de Farfan, Dominican Republic, Lugo signed his first Independent Professional Baseball (IPBF) contract with Gary on May 18th and made his debut that night in the second game of the year against the Chicago Dogs. The right-hander retired eight of the nine batters he faced that evening, including the last seven he faced, over 2.2 scoreless innings of relief in his first professional baseball appearance in the United States since Sept., 30, 2017. Lugo also opened his IPBF career with a season-high-tying 13.1 consecutive scoreless innings streak. Lugo threw 1.1 scoreless innings of relief in his home debut on May 22nd vs. Sioux City and recorded his first IPBF hold on May 24th vs. Sioux Falls. Lugo also recorded his first IPBF save on May 25th vs. Sioux Falls.
Gary continues their three-day, four-game series on Wednesday with a doubleheader against Chicago starting at 5:05 p.m. Game two of Wednesday’s doubleheader is expected to begin 30 minutes after the completion of game one. RailCats right-hander Jumpei Akanuma (2-1, 2.97) opposes Dogs right-hander Trevor Simms (1-5, 7.47) in game one and Gary left-hander Seth Hougesen (0-0, 0.00) counters against Chicago left-hander Jake Dahlberg (3-2, 4.20) in game two.
The RailCats return home to U.S. Steel Yard for the start of their season long 10-game homestand on Friday, July 12 at 7:10 p.m. vs Cleburne. Friday’s game is Kevin “Bacon” Night, and includes bacon themed concession specials. The series-opener also serves as Nurses Appreciation Night, with postgame fireworks presented by Fifth Third Bank.
Ticket packages for the 2019 Gary SouthShore RailCats season are available online at RailCatsBaseball.com or by calling the RailCats ticket line at (219) 882-BALL. The RailCats box office is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.