With a hard-fought 1-0 win Sunday evening over Gary SouthShore, the Cleburne Railroaders recorded their fourth straight series win and continued their best stretch of the season.
It was the Railroaders’ 11th win in their past 14 games as Cleburne (26-22) maintained its grasp of first place in the South Division by a half-game over Kansas City.
In Sunday’s 1-0 victory over the RailCats, the difference in the game was a matter of hustle as Cleburne’s K.C. Huth beat out an infield single with two outs in the bottom of the eighth to score the game’s lone run.
Hunter Clanin hit a one-out triple to right-center field to put the go-ahead run 90 feet away, which set the stage for Huth after a pop-out. Huth’s ground ball to second base allowed Clanin to score the winning run.
Cleburne closer Tyler Wilson sealed the deal as he pitched around a lead-off walk in the ninth, inducing a game-ending double play to secure his 11th save of the 2019 campaign.
Jesus Sanchez was outstanding for the ‘Roaders as he fired seven scoreless innings with just four singles and one walk allowed in a no-decision. He danced around a pair of baserunners in the first and seventh innings, and stranded a Gary SouthShore runner at third with just one out in the fourth.
Nefi Ogando (2-3) picked up his second consecutive win in relief by tossing a scoreless eighth.
John Nester went 2-for-2 with a walk to lead Cleburne offensively while Huth went 1-for-3 with an RBI.
In game 2 of the series against the RailCats on Saturday, Gary SouthShore plated four runs in the top of the fifth inning and held on from there to claim a 7-5 win over the Railroaders.
Cleburne held a 3-2 lead going into the fifth, but Braden Pearson (3-2) allowed a game-tying double to Zach Welz and a go-ahead single to Colin Willis to give the RailCats a 4-3 lead. With the bases loaded and one out, a groundball from Raymond Jones appeared to be an inning-ending double play, but the throw to first from Cleburne shortstop Daniel Robertson skipped into foul ground to score two more RailCats runs for a 6-3 lead.
Cleburne made it interesting with two runs in the seventh on an RBI single from Nehrir and an RBI double from John Nester, but Gary SouthShore added a big insurance run in the top of the ninth to increase its lead to 7-5.
Felix Carvallo pitched around a two-out single from Nehrir in the ninth to record his fourth save.
Gary SouthShore scored in the top of the first via a Willis run-scoring single, then rain forced a 68-minute rain delay. The Railroaders seized a 3-1 advantage with a trio of runs in the second, courtesy of a Nester solo homer, a Nick Rotola RBI triple, and a Logan Trowbridge RBI single.
Nester, Robertson, Nehrir and Ryan Brett each collected two hits in the loss, with Nester recording two RBIs and a run.
In the series opener vs. Gary SouthShore on Friday, the Railroaders recorded a 4-3 victory on Friday night at The Depot.
Cleburne relievers D.J. Sharabi, Martire Garcia and Tyler Wilson preserved a one-run lead over the final four innings, allowing just three singles. Their efforts earned a third consecutive win for Stephen Johnson (3-0), who gutted his way through five innings, allowing three runs on five hits.
For the second straight night, Cleburne faced an early deficit. The RailCats put their first four runners of the game aboard, capped by a bases-loaded walk to Colin Willis that gave Gary SouthShore a 1-0 lead. Wilfredo Gimenez doubled the advantage via a sacrifice fly, scoring Evan Marzilli on a close play at the plate.
The RailCats made it 3-0 in the second inning when Marzilli sliced a run-scoring triple to center, plating Marcus Mooney.
Cleburne tied the game up with a three-run third inning when Huth slapped an RBI single, which was folloed by a two-out, two-run homer by Nehrir.
Brett ultimately provided the winning run with a solo blast in the bottom of the fourth, sneaking a fly ball just over the left-field wall.
Sharabi pitched out of trouble in the sixth with a big strikeout to strand two runners, then Garcia tossed the seventh and the eighth. Wilson pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to register his 10th save.
Robertson, Brett and Huth each collected multiple hits in the game 1 win. Robertson went 2-for-3 with a walk and a run, Brett went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run on the homer, and Huth went 2-for-3 with an RBI.
Despite a 1-for-11 slump in the three-game series with the RailCats, Chase Simpson’s numbers for the season remains solid for Cleburne with a .289 batting average with 28 extra-base hits (15 doubles, 12 homers) with a league-leading 50 RBIs to go along with 31 walks in 47 games. In 38 games, Nester boasts a team-leading .323 batting average with 19 extra-base hits including 10 homers with 25 RBIs and 24 walks.
Since signing with the Railroaders in mid-June, Buck — a true rookie out of Cal State San Marcos — is hitting .321 with 26 hits, including seven doubles, with 10 RBIs and 11 walks.
The Railroaders are off Monday as they travel to Franklin, Wisconsin, for their first-ever series against the expansion Milwaukee Milkmen, which begins at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday with lefty Eudis Idrogo (2-3, 6.10) scheduled to start for Cleburne.