House Rules as T-Bones Edge AirHogs, 3-2
Grand Prairie, Texas—If the Kansas City T-Bones (55-41) make it to the post season you can look back on nights like Thursday night in Texas as the reason why. Hobbled by injuries, missing key players, starting players leaving the game due to injury, key two out hits to go with some clutch bullpen work helped the T-Bones fight off a tough challenge from the Texas AirHogs (26-71) in a “gut it out” win 3-2.
In the top of the third the T-Bones got the bats going with a leadoff walk from Ramsey Romano and a single from Dylan Tice. After a pair of fly ball outs Daniel Nava gave the T-Bones a 1-0 lead with a two out RBI single to center off Texas starter Travis Ballew. Mason Davis would follow with another RBI single to score Tice and KC had a 2-0 lead.
The AirHogs would answer in the home half of the third on two unearned runs off T-Bones starter lefty T.J. House (2-0). From there the two teams locked up in tie game as Ballew and House kept the game even into the sixth. Ballew would toss five innings before leaving after the fifth scattering six hits. KC took the lead in the sixth, but the inning would prove costly to an already depleted T-Bones lineup. Omar Carrizales singled to start the inning against Texas reliever Paul Perez. With two outs Tice had a double down the left field line to give the T-Bones the lead they would never surrender.
After Tice reached Shawn O’Malley tried to leg out an infield single and dove head first into the first base bag. He landed head first and stayed on the ground for several minutes holding his back and was helped up to his feat and left the game with an apparent back injury. The T-Bones had to insert Casey Gillaspie back into the lineup who was given the night off after hitting a ball of his foot the night before. The team was already without all-star catcher Roy Morales on the inactive list and are missing Chris Colabello, who is with Team Italy in a series in Spain. Mason Davis is slowed with a banged-up leg as well and the T-Bones who were already shorthanded now faced another challenge.
Stewart Ijames came into play second and Tice moved to third with Romano going to short stop and Danny Mars going to right from left to make room for Gillaspie. Ijames played three games at second earlier this year with Texas before the August 21st trade to Kansas City but they were the only three games he had played at second in 612 career minor league games.
House would work 5.2 holding the AirHogs to just three hits with nine strike outs. The T-Bones pen held on after House left the game in the sixth. Hunter Smith was big for KC as he was brought in for House with runners and first and third and the T-Bones clinging to a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth. Smith was able to get pinch hitter Yang Jin to line out to second for the third out of the inning ending the threat for Texas. Smith would work a scoreless seventh before Robert Calvano worked a 1-2-3 eighth for Kansas City.
Carlos Diaz came in in the bottom of the ninth and after getting one out walked a batter then retired the next two the including the final out on a strike out of Justin Byrd to notch his 12th save. House (2-0) was the winner while Perez (2-2) was tagged with the loss.
The T-Bones remain very much alive in the playoff hunt. Thursday night Sioux City (56-40) beat Sioux Falls 8-1 and remained in first place in the American Association South Division, while Cleburne (56-40) also won 2-0 over Lincoln. KC trails both clubs by one game with four to play, four of which are against Sioux City at JustBats Field at T-Bones Stadium starting Friday night. Catch all the action live on the T-Bones Broadcast Network. It will be the final home stand of the season with the first pitch at 7:05 p.m. against Sioux City. Tickets to all T-Bones home games are on sale now online or by calling (913) 328-5618 or by visiting the Saint Luke’s Box Office between the hours of 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Group ticket sales are also on sale now.
For additional information or interview requests, members of the media may contact the T-Bones Media Relations Department at (817) 739-3693. Stay tuned to www.tbonesbaseball.com. and the T-Bones Facebook and Twitter pages for updates throughout the season.
By Dan Vaughan