Another outing, another series win. Cleburne beat Chicago, 13-8, Monday night as the Railroaders claimed their 10th consecutive series victory.
The series winning streak started on June 26 when the Railroaders beat Lincoln in game 2 of that series. When Cleburne beat Milwaukee on July 11, it established a new franchise record with five straight series wins. And with the victory Monday night in Chicago, that number has doubled for the seemingly unstoppable Railroaders.
Prior to the Chicago series, the Railroaders became not only the first team this season to win a series at CHS Field in St. Paul, but Cleburne swept the Saints in a battle of first-place teams at the time.
Cleburne Manager Brent Clevlen said winning five out of six games in St. Paul and Chicago was huge for the Railroaders.
“[St. Paul] was definitely a big series win and to sweep them was a big deal,” Clevlen said. “To go up there and play St. Paul, which was leading the north at the time, and take those three games were big for us. Then we go down to Chicago and win that series as well, it was a big road trip for us.
“The guys are having a lot of fun right now and they’re coming ready to play every day and we’re playing good as a team right now. They know what’s at stake. Every game matters. We have a long stretch coming up, today’s our last off day for 28 straight days.”
Saturday’s win over the Dogs was the 100th victory in Clevlen’s managerial career in the American Association. He needed only 164 games to record 100 wins.
“It was special,” Clevlen said. “I’ve been fortunate to have a great group of guys. The guys are really meshing together and they enjoy being around each other and it’s a good clubhouse. A lot of times, that allows things to take care of itself on the field.”
At 40-26, Cleburne is only one game behind Fargo-Moorhead (41-25) for the best record in the American Association as the Railroaders have won 24 of their last 30 games.
However, despite Cleburne’s scorching play the past five weeks, the Railroaders’ lead for first place in the South Division is only 2.5 games over Sioux City as the Explorers have reeled off 10 consecutive wins to stay right on Cleburne’s heels.
“Obviously, we’d like a little bit wider gap,” Clevlen said. “Sioux City is in a stretch where they’re playing some teams that don’t really have the best records in the league. Those are games that any team at the top expects to win. That’s why it was big for us to go against St. Paul and Chicago, two of the better teams in the whole league, and win five out of six. We’ve got Texas coming up, and they’re a scrappy team, but if we play our game those are games we should win.”
The Railroaders clinched their 10th series win thanks in large part to a record performance by recent signing Angel Reyes, who matched a franchise record with five hits, including two home runs, to lead Cleburne to victory over the Dogs (39-27).
Reyes started the scoring for Cleburne in the opening inning with a solo home run. He added singles in the third and fifth, cranked a massive solo homer in the sixth, and then tied the record with a one-out single into center.
The Railroaders doubled their lead in the second on an RBI single from Hunter Clanin, then pushed across two more runs in the third on an RBI groundout from Chase Simpson and a run-scoring single from Zach Nehrir.
Chicago got solo home runs from Victor Roache and Jordan Dean against Cleburne starter Eudis Idrogo (7-3), but the Railroaders southpaw battled his way through six innings to earn a win in his fifth consecutive start. Cleburne put the game out of reach with three runs in the fifth and sixth innings, highlighted by a two-run blast from John Nester.
Nick Rotola supplied additional offense late with a solo home run in the seventh and a two-run single in the ninth. The Dogs rallied in the ninth against Tyler Wilson, scoring four times before Wilson finally slammed the door with a strikeout of Gustavo Pierre to end the game.
The Railroaders are off Tuesday as they return to Cleburne, then they will open a series against the Texas AirHogs on Wednesday in Grand Prairie. The two teams will resume a suspended game from July 1 at 5 p.m., with the regularly scheduled game to follow.
After the series in Grand Prairie, Cleburne plays its first home game at The Depot since July 21 when the Railroaders host Sioux Falls for a three-game series beginning Saturday. Cleburne has only 12 home games remaining this season.
“We encourage the fans to come out and support the guys,” Clevlen said. “The more fans we get, the more energy that brings and the players feed off that. We’re getting to August, and it’s hot out there so if you get that extra boost from the fans that helps the players battle through some of those games, especially with some big ones here coming up.”
For information on tickets, call the Railroaders office at 817-945-8705 or visit the Railroaders website at www.railroaderbaseball.com.