After seeing their franchise-record series winning streak come to an end in Grand Prairie, the Cleburne Railroaders bounced back with a pair of hard-fought wins over Sioux Falls on Saturday and Sunday.
Entering a three-game series against the AirHogs on Wednesday, Cleburne had won 10 consecutive series and 24 of 30 games overall. Smart money would’ve been on the Railroaders extending that streak to 11 straight series considering they were facing Texas, the last-place team in the American Association. But the AirHogs stunned the Railroaders with three straight one-run wins (4-3, 1-0, 4-3).
It was only the second time Cleburne was swept all season; the first came June 14-17 against Sioux City in a four-game series.
But the ‘Roaders showed resilience back home at The Depot for the first time in nearly two weeks with an improbable 5-4 come-from-behind win Saturday in game 1 against Sioux Falls.
Cleburne trailed the Canaries, 4-1, entering the bottom of the ninth when the Railroaders scored four times to record a walk-off win.
Chase Simpson got things started with a walk then John Nester doubled to put two runners in scoring position. Zach Nehrir worked a nine-pitch walk to load the bases with no outs, prompting Sioux Falls to go to the bullpen. The Canaries’ new pitcher hit Hunter Clanin to score a run and trim the deficit to 4-2.
Then Ryan Brett hit an RBI single to cut the deficit to one. After a fly-out, the Railroaders tied the game on a wild pitch, then Logan Trowbridge chopped a grounder up the middle past a drawn-in infield to score Clanin for the winning run.
The comeback ninth inning marked a remarkable turn of events for the Cleburne offense, which had produced just four runs over the last 30 innings.
Tyler Herron put the clamps on Cleburne over seven innings, allowing just four hits and one run with eight strikeouts. The Canaries gave him a 3-0 lead with an unearned run in the second and a Burt Reynolds two-run homer in the top of the fifth.
Cleburne’s lone run against Herron came in the bottom of the fifth on a two-out RBI single from Trowbridge, but Sioux Falls pushed the lead back to three with a Kevin Taylor run-scoring double in the top of the seventh.
Tyler Wilson (3-1) earned the win for Cleburne with a 1-2-3 top of the ninth. Eudis Idrogo’s five-game winning streak was snapped, as the Railroaders starter had to settle for a no-decision with five innings of work, allowing three runs on four hits.
In game 2 against the Canaries on Sunday, Cleburne scored all five runs with two outs and got scoreless work from four different relievers to beat Sioux Falls, 5-2.
Bryan Saucedo (1-1) picked up his first Cleburne win with 5.1 strong innings, allowing just two runs on six hits. After Sioux Falls (31-41) scored a run in the first to grab a 1-0 lead, the Railroaders bats came to Saucedo’s aid.
Nehrir punched a two-out, two-run single into right for a 2-1 lead, then Angel Reyes tacked on two more runs with a double in the second for a 4-1 advantage. Grant Buck kept the two-out magic going with a run-scoring single in the third that extended the lead to 5-1.
Alay Lago cranked a long solo homer in the sixth to trim the edge to 5-2, but the Railroaders got tremendous work from D.J. Sharabi, Edward Cruz, Nefi Ogando and Tyler Wilson to slam the door.
The Canaries’ best scoring opportunity came in the seventh, when they loaded the bases with nobody out on two walks and a double. Cruz pitched around the trouble, striking out Burt Reynolds and Kevin Taylor before Lago flied out to right to end the threat. Wilson tossed a 1-2-3 ninth to secure his 17th save.
The two wins over Sioux Falls pushed Cleburne’s record to 43-29 and a two-game lead over Sioux City for first place in the South Division entering Monday’s series finale against Sioux Falls, set for 7:06 p.m..
The Railroaders are set to host Kansas City for a three-game series beginning at 7:06 p.m. Tuesday. Then Cleburne hits the road for a six-game road trip before returning to The Depot for what will be a pivotal three-game series against Sioux City on Aug. 15-17.
Cleburne’s final home series will be Aug. 24-26 when the ‘Roaders host the AirHogs. For information on tickets, call the Railroaders office at 817-945-8705, or visit the website at www.railroaderbaseball.com.