Cleburne swept a doubleheader in Winnipeg on Sunday to end a six-game road trip on a high note as the Railroaders head home to The Depot for a 10-game homestand.
After dropping 2 of 3 in Sioux Falls, the Railroaders (12-11) lost game 1 against Winnipeg, 8-6, on Friday. After Saturday’s game 2 was rained out, it was made up as part of a doubleheader Sunday, which Cleburne swept with wins of 8-0 and 5-2 at Shaw Park in Winnipeg.
“That was a big day for us to go out there and take two,” Cleburne Manager Brent Clevlen said. “It’s always hard to sweep a doubleheader. Our guys showed up ready to go and played really well in both of those games on Sunday.”
In game 1 of Sunday’s doubleheader, Jesus Sanchez fired the first individual shutout in franchise history to lead Cleburne to an 8-0 victory.
Sanchez (3-2) allowed just five singles in keeping the Goldeyes (14-9) off the scoreboard. Winnipeg got just one runner to third base and Sanchez did not reach a three-ball count the entire afternoon. Sanchez was efficient from start to finish, needing only 83 pitches to get through the seven-inning game.
“In his three wins, he hasn’t given up a run,” Clevlen said. “It was fun to watch [Sunday]. He didn’t have a three-ball count. He attacked the hitters. He was throwing all his pitches for strikes. He kept those guys off balance. And the defense played well behind him. We scored early, and it always eases pitchers when they have an early lead.”
The Railroaders jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the top of the second inning thanks to some help from Winnipeg. Goldeyes starter Ryan Johnson loaded the bases with nobody out on two walks and a single. A wild pitch brought home the game’s first run, then Angel Rosa chopped a run-scoring grounder to shortstop for a 2-0 lead. Hunter Clanin followed with an RBI double and K.C. Huth capped the frame with an RBI single.
A pair of two-run home runs provided more cushion for Cleburne when Clanin smacked an opposite field blast in the fourth, then Jonathan Rodriguez connected for a line-drive two-run shot in the fifth to finish off the scoring.
John Nester went 2-for-4 with two runs scored, Clanin went 2-for-3 with three RBIs, two runs and a walk, and Rodriguez finished 1-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs with a walk.
In game 2 of the doubleheader, things got interesting early.
In the top of the first, Cleburne’s Kenny Meimerstorf lined an RBI single to right field that scored Nick Rotola on a close play at the plate. Winnipeg starter Harrison Cooney was ejected for arguing the call with home plate umpire Chris Lee, forcing the Goldeyes to go the bullpen in the first inning.
An RBI double from Chase Simpson made it 2-0 in the top of the third, then Rodriguez added another with a long sacrifice fly.
Those runs would prove critical, as Winnipeg came storming back in the bottom of the fourth. The Goldeyes started the inning with four straight hits to cut the deficit to 3-2. Winnipeg threatened to do even more damage as the Goldeyes had runners at first and second with nobody out, but Cleburne starter Michael Gunn (2-0) recovered to retire the next three, then worked a scoreless bottom of the fifth to qualify for the victory.
Nester pulled a run back in the top of the fifth with an RBI double, then Rodriguez delivered his second home run of the day with a solo shot in the top of the seventh to stretch the lead to 5-2.
Cody White retired all four hitters he faced, and Martire Garcia induced two groundouts to close out the sweep.
Simpson and Meimerstorf each went 2-for-4 with an RBI while Simpson scored twice. Rodriguez was 1-for-3 with two RBIs.
In the series opener vs. Winnipeg on Friday, Cleburne committed three errors over the final two innings as a 6-2 lead turned into an 8-6 loss to the Goldeyes.
Huth had a memorable day despite the loss as the third baseman went 2-for-4 with two homers and four RBIs.
Cleburne, which is 1.5 games back of Sioux Falls for first place in the South Division, begins a stretch of 10 consecutive home games at 7:06 p.m. Tuesday when the Railroaders open a three-game series against Kansas City.
“I feel like we’re close,” Clevlen said. “Hopefully [Sunday] was a turning phase where things kind of came together. We were able to fit the pieces together in both those games. If we continue to play like we did those two games, I think we’ll turn the page and get headed in the right direction.”
After the series against Kansas City, Cleburne hosts Sioux City for a four-game set beginning Friday, then the Railroaders wrap up their lengthy homestand with three against the Texas AirHogs on June 18-20.
“We look to win every series we have at home,” Clevlen said. “We need to take advantage of home field. It’s against division opponents so we need to go take care of business and play the way we can and just take it one game at a time. Honestly we’d like to win all of them but that’s hard to do even if you play your best ball. So we’re looking to just win the series and see what happens from there.”
Tuesday’s game is Texas Tech/Hill College night at The Depot.
For information on partnerships, season tickets, group outings, and party packages, call the Railroaders office at 817-945-8705, or visit the website at www.railroaderbaseball.com.