For many managers, the use of the bunt has been removed from their repertoire, but not in the case of Cleburne Railroaders skipper Shelby Ford. The Railroaders skipper employed the sacrifice to perfection on Thursday night, tying an American Association record with six bunts and Cleburne got seven outstanding innings from Josh Hodges in a 3-2 victory over the Wichita Wingnuts. The Railroaders scored two runs on suicide squeeze attempts.
Josh Hodges started for Cleburne and was paired against Wichita starter Charlie Gillies. The two kept the game scoreless through the first four innings, including a 16 minute rain delay.
In the fifth, the Cleburne Railroaders would take the lead. Angel Rosa started the inning with a single. Chase Simpson walked and both runners moved up on a sacrifice bunt. A wild pitch brought home Rosa to make it 1-0.
The Wingnuts responded right away in the bottom half of the inning. Logan Watkins ripped a ball that went over the right fielder’s head and to the wall. He legged that out for a triple and scored on a single by Zach Nehrir to tie the game at one.
In the seventh, Cleburne would retake the lead. Trevor Sealey started the inning with a single, chasing Gillies from the game. Scott Kuzminsky came on and Sealey stole second before moving to third on a ground out. Simpson was intentionally walked bringing Alex Polston to the plate. Polston had already laid down a bunt earlier in the game and this time he laid down a perfect sacrifice as Sealey was charging home from third, easily scoring.
The Railroaders extended their lead an inning later. Patrick Palmeiro led off with a double and moved to third on a sacrifice. That brought KC Huth to the plate, who laid down another perfect sacrifice, this time with Palmeiro charging home from third. He scored to extend the lead to two.
Josh Hodges (2-2) came out after seven. He gave up eight hits, but just one run, while striking out four.
Will Mathis came on in the eighth and Wichita got one of those runs back. John Nester started the inning with a single but was replaced on the bases on a fielder’s choice by Logan Trowbridge. Two batters later, Hunter Clanin ripped a ball down the line in left that brought Trowbridge all the way around to score.
To the ninth the game went as Shawn Blackwell came on looking to close out the contest. He would give up a two-out walk bringing American Association home run leader Tony Thomas to the plate. Thomas ripped a ball up the middle, but Polston made a diving catch to end the game giving Blackwell his ninth save of the season.
Trevor Sealey finished 2-5 with a run scored and Patrick Palmeiro was 2-4 with a run. Three players had two hits each for Wichita, including Logan Watkins, who was 2-5 with a run scored.
These two teams continue their series tomorrow night. The Wichita Wingnuts will send Tyler Kane (3-1, 2.53) to the hill. He will be opposed by Patrick Mincey (0-6, 6.13). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05.
Featured Image by Ed Bailey
By Robert Pannier