Peterson Grand Slam Has Railroaders on Brink of First Playoff Appearance
CLEBURNE, Texas (Sep. 2, 2021) – The Cleburne Railroaders got a go-ahead grand slam from D.J. Peterson to grab a lead they did not relinquish, doubling up the Houston Apollos 6-3 on Thursday night at The Depot at Cleburne Station.
The win, combined with a Lincoln loss to Milwaukee, has reduced the magic number to one to clinch Cleburne’s first-ever playoff appearance. The Railroaders (54-42) now lead Lincoln (51-45) by three games, and Sioux City (49-45) by four games. Cleburne holds the tie-breaker over Lincoln.
Houston (15-81) struck first in the top of the first inning with three consecutive singles to start the game. Aaron Takacs drove in Hudson Bilodeau with an RBI single, but Jesus Sanchez induced a double play and a fly out to limit the damage to just a single run.
The score remained 1-0 into the bottom of the third, when Cleburne strung together back-to-back one-out singles from Noah Vaughan and Alay Lago. A two-out error loaded the bases for Peterson, who crushed a grand slam over the wall in left to give the Railroaders a 4-1 lead. Peterson has now homered 12 times and driven in 34 runs in only 27 games with Cleburne.
Bilodeau cut the lead to 4-2 with a two-out RBI double in the top of the fifth.
Sanchez (3-0) escaped runners at first and second with out in the sixth on a double play, and then stranded a runner at third in the seventh to earn his third win in five starts. He struck out six without issuing a walk.
Landon Holifield walked a tightrope in the top of the eighth, loading the bases on two walks and a single before getting consecutive strikeouts to leave all three runners aboard. The Railroaders grabbed a pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth, beginning with an RBI single from Ramon Hernandez. It was the 100th RBI of the season for Hernandez, becoming just the fifth player in American Association history to accomplish the feat.
Chase Simpson delivered a two-out RBI double later in the inning to push the Cleburne lead to 6-2.
Houston made things interesting in the top of the ninth, as four consecutive hitters reached base with two outs to load the bases and cut the margin to 6-3. Michael Krauza came out of the Railroaders bullpen to strike out Gabe Wurtz, recording his first professional save.
The Railroaders wrap up the regular season with a four-game series against the Kansas City Monarchs, beginning on Friday night at 7:06 PM. Cleburne will start right-hander Kevin Hilton (0-1, 8.52), while Kansas City goes with left-hander Matt Hall (1-0, 0.00).
For information on partnerships, season tickets, group outings, and party packages, call the Railroaders main office at (817) 945-8705, or visit the Railroaders official website at www.railroaderbaseball.com.