McFarland sets tone in Slammers’ victory over Otters
By Tim Tierney For Sun-Times Media July 5, 2014 10:34PM
Joliet Slammers pitcher Kody McFarland delivers to an Evansville batter on Saturday night, July 5, 2014. | Jon Cunningham/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 6, 2014 2:16AM
Kody McFarland had a positive approach Saturday night when he went to the mound for the struggling Joliet Slammers.
“You’ve got to think ‘It’s a new game,’ ’’ McFarland said. “You don’t want to have the mind-set that you’re on a losing streak. You want to almost pretend you’re on a winning streak, that you’re the best.’’
The Slammers overcame a 2-1 deficit and McFarland went five innings without a blowup for a 5-4 win over the Evansville Otters in front of a crowd of 3,224 at Silver Cross Field.
“I definitely needed to come through, kind of set the tone for the team and for the hitters,’’ McFarland said. “The guys came out swinging.’’
The 6-foot-7 Idaho native allowed three runs and four hits over five innings in his sixth start. McFarland (2-1) was coming off a strong outing in his previous appearance, a scoreless, five-inning relief stint June 29 against Gateway.
“Go after hitters, make them make the mistakes, pitch to contact,’’ said McFarland, who allowed a two-run homer and a solo shot Saturday night.
“I thought he did a nice job,’’ Joliet manager Jeff Isom said. “He got his pitch total up a little bit, but he attacks the zone. He gave us an opportunity to win the game.’’
Sam Moore (2 innings, 3 strikeouts), Harry Marino and Jordan Wellander shared the relief duty.
Former Slammer Kolin Conner homered in the top of the ninth to cut Joliet’s lead to 5-4.
The Slammers (17-25) went ahead 5-3 with a run in the sixth when Danny Hernandez doubled, went to third on a sacrifice bunt by Seth Granger and scored on a Tyler Roberts groundout.
Joliet put together a three-run fourth inning to take a 4-2 lead.
Jose Garcia led off with a base hit. After a sacrifice bunt by Hernandez and a popout, Roberts ripped a long double to center field to score Garcia.
Max Casper and Chris Epps then drew walks before Russell Moldenhauer delivered a two-run single, his team-leading 25th and 26th RBI.
“It wasn’t the prettiest of hits, but that’s baseball for you,’’ Moldenhauer said.
The Slammers designated hitter entered the game batting .294, but was just 9-for-44 in the past 10 games.
“I’ve had a few games where I lined out a few times,’’ Moldenhauer said. “Luckily that one finds an area where they couldn’t make a play on it. It was definitely nice to get the two RBI.’’
Joliet went up 1-0 in the first inning on Adam Giacalone’s RBI single. Giacalone’s 23 RBI ranks second on the team.
Left-hander Blair Walters (1-3, 2.50) is scheduled to start Sunday’s 1:05 p.m. series finale, the Slammers’ last home game before the July 14 to 17 All-Star break.
Former Sandburg standout Greg Billo (0-2, 18.90 ERA) was released Saturday after two appearances for the Slammers. The former Kansas City Royals farmhand allowed nine hits and eight runs in 31/3 innings with eight walks.