Cleburne jumped out to a 4-0 lead after two innings and held on down the stretch for a 4-3 win over Sioux City on Sunday night at The Depot at Cleburne Station as the Railroaders won their ninth consecutive series.
Not only did Cleburne extend its series winning streak, but taking two of three games from Sioux City moved the Railroaders (31-23) into sole possession of second place in the South Division of the American Association.
Alay Lago opened the scoring for Cleburne with an RBI single in the bottom of the first inning. After the Railroaders received a leadoff double by Hunter Clanin in the second, Sioux City starter Patrick Ledet got two outs, threatening to strand Clanin’s leadoff double.
But Cleburne’s Tyler Ryan started some clutch two-out hitting with an RBI single to score Clanin and make it 2-0. Osvaldo Martinez and Lago then followed with back-to-back triples as the ‘Roaders smacked three run-scoring hits in succession to turn a 1-0 lead into a 4-0 advantage.
After a scoreless third, the Explorers started to chip away at the four-run deficit by plating a single run in the top of the fourth. Following two more scoreless frames in the fifth and sixth, Sioux City made it a one-run affair with two runs to make it 4-3.
Cleburne reliever Michael Krauza got the Railroaders out of the seventh and then worked around a leadoff walk in the top of the eighth to keep it a one-run lead.
Cleburne’s Edward Cruz then tossed a 1-2-3 shutdown inning in the top of the ninth for the save and the series victory.
Cleburne starter Jheyson Manzueta (4-1) put in 6 2/3 solid innings of work with six hits, three runs and one walk allowed with three strikeouts for the win.
Martinez, Lago and Zach Nehrir each went 2-for-4 to lead the ‘Roaders at the plate, with Martinez scoring twice and driving in one run with Lago recording two RBIs.
The Railroaders are now set for a six-game road trip. After a travel day Monday, Cleburne is scheduled to open a three-game series at Gary SouthShore on Tuesday. Then Cleburne will visit the Chicago Dogs from Friday through Sunday before returning home July 27 for an extended home stay with nine consecutive games at The Depot.
Cleburne takes game 2
In game 2 of the series Saturday night, Cleburne starter Kody Bullard faced the minimum over six shutout innings in his first professional start, and the Railroaders used a pair of big innings to beat the Sioux City Explorers, 10-3, to even the series, 1-1.
Bullard (1-0) allowed a single with one out in the first inning, but promptly induced a 6-4-3 double play. The left-hander then retired the next 12 hitters he faced, tossing 1-2-3 innings in the second through the fifth innings.
He started the sixth with a walk and a single, but got Mitch Ghelfi to hit into a triple play, the second triple play in Railroaders franchise history, with the other coming against Sioux Falls on May 18 of 2019.
After recording just one hit through the first three innings against Sioux City starter Zach Hedges (5-4), Cleburne’s offense came to life in the fourth.
Chase Simpson got the scoring started with a long sacrifice fly to right, then Clanin followed with a two-run home run for a 3-0 lead. After a walk and single, a run came to score on an X’s error. Martinez capped the scoring in the inning with an RBI single for a 5-0 lead.
Cleburne added four more runs in the fifth. Simpson sliced a ground-rule double to the gap in left-center to score one, then Noah Vaughan pounded a sacrifice fly to increase the edge to 7-0. John Nester delivered the big blow with a two-run single up the middle for a 9-0 cushion.
Sioux City (31-24) had a chance to rally in the top of the seventh, loading the bases with nobody out. But Railroaders reliever Brendan Bell limited the damage to just one run in the inning on a sacrifice fly. The Explorers got two more runs in the eighth on a two-out, two-run single from Tolbert, trimming the Cleburne lead to 9-3.
Clanin provided the final scoring of the night with an RBI double in the bottom of the eighth.
X’s take game 1, 7-5
In the series opener between the Railroaders and Explorers on Friday night, Sioux City held off a Cleburne rally for a 7-5 win.
The Railroaders put the tying and winning runs on base in the bottom of the ninth inning, but the Explorers escaped with the victory in a game lasted 4 hours and 11 minutes, a new Railroaders season-high for a nine-inning contest this year. Cleburne hitters saw 14 full counts on the evening, and the game featured a staggering 368 combined pitches.
Trailing 7-5 entering the bottom of the ninth, the Railroaders loaded the bases on a Martinez single, a Ramon Hernandez single, and a walk from Simpson. But Explorers reliever Matt Quintana struck out Clanin swinging to end the game.
Garrett Alexander (6-5) took the loss for the Railroaders, allowing seven runs on six hits over 5.2 innings while fanning six. Taylor Wright and Joseph Camacho pitched well in relief for Cleburne, holding the Explorers off the board over the final 3.1 innings.
For information on partnerships, season tickets, group outings and party packages, call the Railroaders office at 817-945-8705 or visit the Railroaders website at www.railroaderbaseball.com.