09/11/2005 8:08 PM - The Gary SouthShore RailCats completed an improbable climb on Sunday afternoon to the 2005 Northern League Championship Series.
Willie Glen pitched seven strong innings and the bottom third of the order drove in seven runs as the RailCats defeated the St. Paul Saints, 9-4 in the fifth and deciding game of the South Division Playoff Series at U.S. Steel Yard in Gary.
Gary, which lost a league record 65 games in 2004, advances to the Northern League Championship Series in its fourth year of existence and first ever trip to the playoffs. The RailCats, who won the final two games of this playoff, will meet the North Division Champion Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks in the best of five Championship Series beginning on Tuesday night.
The first two games will be played at Fargos Newman Outdoor Field with all remaining contests at U.S. Steel Yard in Gary.
The RailCats took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the 1st inning on Ben Risingers rbi single. St. Paul tied the game in the 2nd when Mike Forbes single produced an unearned run.
But Gary chased Woodman from the game on a pair of Curt Lee sacrifice flies, making it 3-1 after four innings. The RailCats broke the game open in the 5th with five runs off Mike Meyer. Fehlandt Lentini opened the inning with a home run and two-run doubles by Tanner Townsend and Jay Pecci increased the margin to 8-1.
Josh Renick connected for a three-run homer in the top of the seventh inning to make it 8-4. Gary added an insurance run in the bottom of that frame when Lee doubled home Townsend.
Glen allowed six hits and four runs (3 er) in seven innings with a walk and five strikeouts in winning the series clincher. Greg Bruso, Travis Kerber, and Derek Lopez blanked the Saints over the final two innings as the RailCats inproved to 57-44 overall.
The bottom three batters in the Gary lineup combined to go 8-9 with seven rbi on Sunday. Townsend was 4-4 with two rbi, Pecci went 3-3 with two rbi, and Lee, who is pictured at right, was 1-1 with a pair of sac flies and three rbi.
Woodman issued eight hits and three runs in four innings to take the loss for St. Paul. Jeremy Frost had three hits for the defending Northern League champions, who finished the year with a 57-43 overall record.
No team has won consecutive league titles since Winnipeg captured Northern League Central League titles in 2001 and 2002.
2005 NORTHERN LEAGUE DIVISION SERIES PLAYOFF RESULTS
Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks Win Series, 3-1
Tuesday, Sept. 6....at Fargo-Moorhead 7, Lincoln 6, 10 innings
Wednesday, Sept. 7...at Fargo-Moorhead 9, Lincoln 2
Friday, Sept. 9...at Lincoln 9, Fargo-Moorhead 3
Saturday, Sept. 10...Fargo-Moorhead 13, at Lincoln 6
Gary SouthShore RailCats Win Series, 3-2
Tuesday, Sept. 6...at St. Paul 6, Gary 4.
Wednesday, Sept. 7...Gary 10, at St. Paul 9
Friday, Sept. 9...St. Paul 5, at Gary 4
Saturday, Sept. 10...at Gary 1, St. Paul 0
Sunday, Sept. 11...at Gary 9, St. Paul 4
2005 NORTHERN LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES SCHEDULE (All Times Central)
Gary SouthShore RailCats vs. Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks
Tuesday, Sept. 13 .Gary (Mike Schaefer) at Fargo-Moorhead (Brandon Culp), 6:05 p.m.
Wednesday, Sept. 14 Gary (TBA) at Fargo-Moorhead (Taft Cable), 6:05 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 15 Travel Day
Friday, Sept. 16 Fargo-Moorhead at Gary, 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, Sept, 17 Fargo-Moorhead at Gary, 6:00 p.m.*
Sunday, Sept. 18 Fargo-Moorhead at Gary, 2:00 p.m.*