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Saltdogs eclipse RailCats with big fifth inning
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Saltdogs eclipse RailCats with big fifth inning

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Saltdogs eclipse

Lincoln Saltdogs pitcher Derek Gordon (left) and his fiancee, Tarrah Bossert, don their solar glasses as the solar eclipse nears totality during Monday's game at Haymarket Park.

J.R. Bunda whipped out his phone during the middle of the third inning and went live on Instagram so his family in Hawaii and friends around the world could experience the same thing as 6,956 fans at Haymarket Park experienced Monday — a solar eclipse.

For many Saltdogs players, who defeated Gary Southshore 8-5, it was the first time they had experienced the natural phenomenon.

“I think the biggest thing being from Hawaii, everyone back home is not part of the mainland of the United States, so they can't get that same experience, maybe they can, but they are a little farther away than the path of totality,” Bunda said.

Monday's contest was delayed for 26 minutes so fans could watch the eclipse take shape just above the Haymarket Park outfield.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for all of us,” Bunda said. “To be one of the six professional baseball teams to be playing during this time and in a historic event where people all over the world are coming to this area. We all just tried to soak it in.”

[More photos of Monday's eclipse from around the state]

After the eclipse subsided and play resumed, the sun shined in the bottom of the fifth inning as the Saltdogs erased a 3-0 deficit with an eight-run inning behind three home runs.

After Juan Martinez scored Lincoln's first run, Joe Robbins gave the Saltdogs a 4-3 lead with a three-run shot. Randolph Oduber added a two-run blast, and Nathaniel Maggio hit a solo home run on the very next pitch as the Saltdogs batted through the order. Curt Smith was the only Saltdog in the fifth inning to fail to reach base and score.

“The guys enjoyed everything that went on today,” manager Bobby Brown said. “They stayed focused and said 'play ball' and they really played ball after that.”

Lincoln has now hit 13 home runs in the past four games, which included a three-game sweep of Sioux City.

“We've had it throughout the year, guys are really starting to swing the bat well,” Brown added. “Brandon (Jacobs) has been swinging it absolutely awesome in Sioux City and he had one today where the wind cut it down. It's nice to hit over the fence sometimes for an instant offense.”

Jacobs' two home runs Sunday marked the first multi-home run game by a Lincoln player this season.

Dimitri Kourtis, who picked up the win Monday for Lincoln, showed why he has been counted on so heavily throughout the season, especially during a delay where pitchers' arms got cold.

“Dimitri has been a starter for us three spot starts this year. He has built up to do that,” Brown said. “We knew we were only going to play two or three innings before we had to shut it down for the eclipse. Parker Frazier (Lincoln's starter) is a really good Triple-A pitcher that hasn't pitched in a year coming off an injury. We just kind of made the decision he was going to start the game and we were going to ride Dmitri as long as we could, and he was absolutely huge for us today.”

Kourtis went four innings in relief, as the RailCats made it interesting with two runs in the ninth against reliever Fabio Martinez. Michael Wagner closed the door to pick up his 19th save of the season.

Lincoln improved to 54-30 and holds a seven game advantage over Gary in the Central Division standings. The teams play again Tuesday at 6:45 p.m.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7431 or tgray@journalstar.com.

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