Rookard’s game-winning blast leads Gary to series sweep, 4-3 win

Rookard’s game-winning blast leads Gary to series sweep, 4-3 win

Two home runs from Tom Walraven and the game-winning home run from M.J. Rookard with two outs in the top of the ninth led the Gary SouthShore RailCats to their second sweep of the year and a 4-3 win over the Milwaukee Milkmen on Monday night at Routine Field. Rookard’s home run was the first of his professional career and the last of a season-high-tying three hit by Gary.

Down 3-2 entering the top of the ninth, Walraven tied the game with his second of two home runs to begin the inning. Two batters later, Rookard launched his first pro homer just over the right field wall in his only at-bat of the game to give Gary the lead for good.

The Milkmen drew two walks off Madison, Ind., native Ryan Thurston (1) in the bottom of the ninth but the left-hander recorded the final two outs to secure the win and record his first professional save. Felix Carvallo (2-2) recorded the first out of the bottom of the ninth and picked up four outs in the victory.

Milwaukee (27-39) scored first for the second time in the series on Riley Pittman’s solo homer to begin the bottom of the first. Pittman’s home run was his third of the season and his second in as many games.

Gary (27-40) quickly tied the game on Walraven’s home run down the left field line to begin the second. Walraven’s home run extended his hitting streak to six games and his on-base streak to 15 games, respectively.

The Milkmen regained the lead with a run in the sixth. Former RailCat Garrett Copeland singled to center on the first pitch he saw from Nick Floyd before All-Star Manuel Boscan pulled a single to right, giving Milwaukee runners on the corners. Two batters later, Dan Ward brought in Copeland with a sacrifice fly to center.

The RailCats tied the game back up with another run in the top eighth. Ray Jones recorded the first hit for a Gary pinch-hitter with a leadoff double to left-center before being pinch-run for by Rookard. Marcus Mooney then drew a four-pitch walk, giving the ‘Cats runners on first and second. Will Savage then attempted to move both baserunners into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt, however, the Milkmen got the lead runner in Rookard at third for the first out of the frame. Alex Crosby then reached on an infield single before Randy Santiesteban evened the game with a sacrifice fly to left, bringing home Mooney from third.

Dan Ward gave the Milkmen the lead for the last time with a solo home run to left-center in the bottom of the eighth. Ward’s home run was his second of the series and the last of Milwaukee’s eight hit in the three-game series.

Former RailCat Myles Smith (1-3) was charged with the loss after allowing two home runs in the top of the ninth.

Gary returns home to U.S. Steel Yard on Tuesday for a nine-game, 10-day homestand vs. Winnipeg at 7:10 p.m. RailCats’ left-hander Trevor Lubking (5-7, 4.79) makes his league-high 17th start against Goldeyes’ southpaw Kevin McGovern (9-4, 4.13) in the series opener.

Tuesday’s game is Crown Point Community Library Night and features a food drive, supporting Food Bank of Northwest Indiana. Tuesday’s game is also another Community HealthNet Health Centers Tuesday and Taco Tuesday. Visit any Northwest Indiana CHN for complimentary tickets to Tuesday’s game and enjoy our beef tacos and margaritas for $2 and $5, respectively.

Ticket packages for the 2019 Gary SouthShore RailCats season are available online at and can also be purchased by calling the RailCats ticket line at (219) 882-BALL. The RailCats box office is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.