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Cleburne Takes Series as X’s Wild Card Lead Shrinks


Cleburne, TX - It wasn’t a game that will go in the hall of fame as an example of the best played baseball game, but the X’s fall in a close one to the Cleburne Railroaders 7-5 in the second game of the three game set, securing the series win for Cleburne. 

Sioux City got off to a fast start as Jeremy Hazelbaker went the opposite way for his second homer of the season with a man aboard to make it 2-0 Sioux City. But Cleburne answered in the bottom half of the inning as a walk was followed by a double from Chase Simpson to put runners in scoring position. It was a blooper down the right field line by Zach Nehrir that ended up as a double and scored a pair to tie the game 2-2 in the first. 

In the third Cleburne got a man on with a lead off walk. Angel Reyes hit a ground ball to third which at first glance seemed like a double play ball but Jose Sermo bobbled the grounder and tried to make up with a throw to first to salvage an out but the throw was high and got away from the Sioux City first baseman allowing for runners at second and third with no one out. John Nester plated both of them with a double to left center field to put Cleburne up 4-2. 

Both teams traded a run in a weird sixth inning. Nate Samson lead off the sixth with a single. He would be the force out at second as Hazelbaker hit a grounder up the middle but Robertson the short stop would be unable to complete the double play with the throw to first. Sermo then hit a ground ball to second which seemed like an inning ending double play but Railroaders second baseman Ryan Brett attempted to pitch the ball to second but tossed it over Robertsons head allowing runners at second and third with one out. But the X’s could only bring a single of those runs home on a Drew Stankiewicz ground out to make it a 4-3 game. 

Cleburne got one back in the bottom half of the inning without a hit. Zach Nehrir was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and immediately stole second. An out later Logan Trowbridge hit a grounder to third, Sermo fielded it and caught Nehrir too far off of second, the throw went to Stankiewicz who had Nehrir in a run down. Stankiewicz attempted to chase Nehrir down and dove to tag him but it was ruled that he missed the tag putting runners at the corners with one out. A sacrifice fly from KC Huth would score Nehrir and give Cleburne a 5-3 lead.

Jesus Sanchez (9-3) would earn the win for Cleburne as he went six innings, allowing three runs on four hits, with one walk and four strikeouts as he made his third start of the season against the Explorers. 

Eric Karch (4-5) also making his third start against Cleburne, took the loss for Sioux City as he managed to go five and a third, allowing five runs, three earned on four hits, all doubles, with three walks and four punch outs. 

Cleburne in the seventh would walk the bases loaded but the Explorers would be unable to drive home a run. The X’s on the night went 1-9 with runners in scoring position as they struggled to find the big hit they needed. 

In the eighth Ryan Flores took over for the X’s but would allow a pair of insurance runs that ended up being huge for Cleburne. A pair of walks put men aboard for Cleburne, and an error on a relay throw for an attempted inning ending double play brought home one, and a Robertson single to left brought home the second to make it 7-3 Cleburne going into the ninth. 

In the ninth the X’s showed some life, Sebastian Zawada doubled to lead off the inning and Kyle Wren scored him with a single to left pulling the game closer 7-4. Nate Samson would then hit a ground ball to third that Simpson could not handle making it the third error of the game for both teams. Hazelbaker then walked to bring up bases loaded with one out. Sermo would ground out to first allowing a run to score making it 7-5 and put the tying runs into scoring position but Drew Stankiewicz flied out to center to end the ball game. 

With the loss, and the Kansas City T-Bones sweeping a double header from the Texas Airhogs, the X’s have seen their wild card lead dwindle to just a half a game and have fall two and a half games back of the division lead. 

Sioux City will look to avoid the sweep on Saturday as Taylor Jordan gets the ball for the X’s and Charlie Gillies takes the bump for Cleburne with first pitch set for 7:06 pm.