John Menken Impresses in Debut as Railroaders Down Wingnuts, 11-5
There is nothing like making a positive first impression, and that is exactly what John Menken did for the Cleburne Railroaders on Thursday night, hitting a home run and driving in four in his debut, as Cleburne downed the Wichita Wingnuts, 11-5. The Railroaders scored 10 unanswered runs to gain a commanding lead and Jared Mortensen won his first game of the year.
Wichita got off to a great start when they would score 3 runs in the top of first-inning. Mortensen retired the first two batters of the game, but issued a walk to Abel Nieves before Fernando Perez singled. With two on and two down, Tony Thomas connected on his team leading seventh home run of the season to put the Wingnuts on top 3-0.
The Cleburne Railroaders would tie the score in the bottom of the second. Rafael Palmeiro led off the frame with a single and moved to second on a base hit by Levi Scott two batters later. John Menken followed with a single to load the bases before Alex Polston walked to drive in Palmeiro. A sacrifice fly by Blake Grant-Parks made this a one run game before a passed ball would score Menken to tie the game at three.
In the third, Cleburne would take a commanding lead. Trevor Sealey began the inning with a double, and Patrick Palmeiro followed by drawing a walk. A wild pitch moved the runner from second to third but he was gunned down on a fielder’s choice by the elder Palmeiro to put runners at first and second. A walk to Chevy Clarke loaded the bases and a single by Scott brought home Patrick Palmeiro to put the Railroaders on top. That brought Menken to the plate, who crushed the first grand slam in Cleburne history to put the team on top 8-3.
An inning later, Cleburne extended their lead to seven. KC Huth led off the frame with a single and scored when Sealey hit his second home run of the season to make it 10-3.
After giving up three runs in the first, Mortensen was in complete command of this game. He would toss six scoreless innings allowing Wichita just three hits during that time. That included retiring nine in a row.
In the eighth, the Wingnuts would finally snap the streak. Zach Nehrir walked to start the inning but was replaced on a fielder’s choice by Nieves. Perez followed with his fourth home run of the season and the score was 10-5.
Jared Mortensen came out after 8-innings. He allowed 8-hits and 5-runs, striking out 10 to earn his first victory of the season. The 10 strikeouts tied a season-high (June 2).
The Cleburne Railroaders would get one of those runs back in the bottom of the eighth. Grant-Parks singled and Huth followed with a walk to put two on with no one out. Two batters later, Patrick Palmeiro doubled into center to score Grant-Parks and it was 11-5. That would be the final.
It was an incredible debut for John Menken, as he finished 3-4 with 2-runs scored and 4-RBI. Levi Scott and Rafael Palmeiro each had 2-hits and scored 2-runs for Cleburne. Tony Thomas was 2-4 with a run and 3-RBI for Wichita. Fernando Perez was 3-4 with 2-runs and 2-RBI.
The Wichita Wingnuts move on to take on the Texas Airhogs starting on Friday night. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05.
By Robert Pannier