Cleburne Pitching Staff Silences Stockade Bats to Extend Losing Streak to 17
The Salina Stockade have been looking to get their young pitching staff on track, and Tuesday night they got two outstanding performances, allowing just three-total runs in their double-header with the Cleburne Railroaders. However, the Railroaders hurlers were just a little better, allowing a lone run to sweep the double-header and extend the Railroaders losing streak to 17.
In Game 1, the Stockade looked like they would put this long losing streak in the rearview mirror as they took the lead, but then saw Cleburne tie the score before winning in extra-innings. Brian Smith started for Salina and provided his best performance of the season. The left-hander and Stockade player-pitching coach retired the Railroaders in order in the first inning, then allowed two runners to reach in each of the next four frames, but kept Cleburne off the scoreboard by making great pitches when he needed to.
Josh Hodges was looking even more brilliant, allowing two runners to reach through the first three innings and erasing one of those runners on a double-play. In the fourth, the Salina Stockade would take the lead. Eric Ferguson singled to start the inning and moved to second when Jesse Baker reached on an error. Two batters later, Jimmy Heck grounded to third, but the ball was booted, and Ferguson came into score.
In the sixth, the Cleburne Railroaders tied the score. Geraldo Valentin doubled to start the frame. Axel Johnson came into pinch run and he moved to third on a passed ball. After Smith retired the next two hitters, he walked Shawn Zarraga and the Stockade went to the bullpen. Skylar Hunter came on and a passed ball allowed Johnson to score to tie the game.
The game was scheduled for seven-innings because of the double-header, but that would not be enough frames to decide this one. Hodges remained in the game and continued to shine. Following the run in the fourth, he would retire the side in order in all but one inning, including retiring the final 11-batters he faced.
The Stockade were getting good pitching as well but, in the ninth, Cleburne earned the walk-off win. Brandon Tierney singled to start the frame and moved to third on a base hit by Zarraga. K.C. Huth was intentionally walked to set up the force at the plate, but it would not matter as Alex Poston drew a five-pitch walk to bring in the winning run, and the Cleburne Railroaders were the winners, 2-1.
Josh Hodges (2-1) went 9-innings, allowing 3-hits, 2-walks, and an unearned run, while striking out 4 in his first complete game of the season. Brandon Tierney was 2-4 with a run scored and Alex Polston was 1-2 with an RBI and 2-walks.
In Game 2 of the double-header, this was a great pitching duel between Taylor Thurber and Santos Arias. Neither team scored in the first, but Cleburne got on the board in the bottom of the second. Zarraga walked to start the inning, but was thrown out trying to steal. That brought Tierney to the plate, who ripped his second home run of the season to make it 1-0.
Arias had allowed two runners to reach in the first, but he retired the final two batters of the frame, and then simply caught fire. The right-hander retired the side in order over the next three-innings and had a steak of 13 straight batters retired before giving up a two-out hit in the fifth. Santos Arias (2-2) went 6-innings, allowing 3-hits and no runs while striking out 5. Winston Abreu came on in the seventh to close out the game for his fifth save of the season.
Despite taking the loss, Taylor Thurber (0-1) was absolutely brilliant in this game. He went the distance, giving the Stockade their first complete game of the season. The right-hander allowed 3-hits, walks, and 2-runs, while fanning 2.
These two teams will continue their series tomorrow. First pitch is 7:06.
By Robert Pannier