CLEBURNE, TX – The Lincoln Saltdogs tallied 12 hits but managed just three runs in an 8-3 loss to the Cleburne Railroaders on Saturday night.
The Saltdogs (45-46) missed the sweep but still earned the series win, their fifth in the last six series.
Jose Jose picked up the loss in his first start since 2015. The lefty gave up six runs on 10 hits over three innings. Patrick Mincey was superb for the Railroaders (30-61). He lasted eight innings and surrendered just two runs on 11 hits.
The teams exchanged barbs in the first inning. Saltdogs slugger Brandon Jacobs crushed a ball over the left field fence for a solo home run. It was his team-high 20th blast. The veteran becomes the first Saltdogs hitter to smack 20 home runs in a season since Ian Gac in 2014.
Cleburne answered in the bottom half of the inning and took its first lead of the series. Patrick Palmeiro started a streak of five straight two-out hits with an RBI single. Cam Monger belted the big knock, a two RBI double, and the Railroaders jumped in front 4-1.
The scoring continued into the next half inning. Christian Ibarra went deep for a solo homer to cut it to a two-run deficit. It was his 17th long ball of the season.
The Railroaders grew their lead in the third. Monger singled and Justin Byrd doubled to start the frame. After a wild pitch plated a run, Michael Gulino drove in another with a sacrifice fly to make it 6-2.
Reliever Cortland Cox took over for Jose and safely navigated three innings before having trouble in the seventh. Levi Scott started the inning with a double to bring up Monger. The outfielder cranked a homer for his third hit of the game and brought the Cleburne lead to six runs.
Lincoln tacked on a run in the ninth. Jacobs ripped a double and moved to third base on a wild pitch. Randolph Oduber sent him home with a groundout to complete the scoring.
The Saltdogs registered hits in every inning but left 10 runners on base. Their streak of five straight quality starts ended.
The Saltdogs have a short turnaround as the team prepares to face the Texas AirHogs on Sunday at Haymarket Park. First pitch is at 5:05 PM with coverage beginning at 4:35 PM on ESPN 101.5 FM 1480 AM and http://saltdogs.com/stream.