LINCOLN – Brian McAfee pitched a complete game shutout and the Lincoln Saltdogs (34-21) completed a four-game sweep of the Cleburne Railroaders (25-32) with a 7-0 win on Monday night.
The Saltdogs set several season-highs in the seven-run win. The win was the team’s seventh straight, brought the club to 13 games over .500 and featured a five-run inning, all of which were season-highs.
McAfee allowed just six hits in the shutout effort. He did not issue a walk compared to three strikeouts. It was his second straight complete game after pitching six innings in a rain-shortened win against Salina in his last outing. The Cornell and Duke grad has three quality starts in four tries.
The Saltdogs bats got going in the third inning. Christian Ibarra started the frame with a double and Matty Johnson was hit by a pitch in the next at bat. After a couple of fly outs, Brandon Jacobs came through with a two-out single to score the first run of the game.
Johnson led off the bottom of the fifth inning and walked to begin another scoring frame. Two batters later, Curt Smith delivered an RBI double. Then, after a Jacobs single, Nathaniel Maggio notched an RBI base hit. Next, Cleburne went to the bullpen but it did not stop the Saltdogs. Dashenko Ricardo hit a three-run home run to make it a five-run outburst in the fifth.
The scoring concluded in the bottom of the eighth. Christian Ibarra lifted a solo shot over the left field fence to make it 7-0. It was his fourth home run of the game.
Ricardo had a season-high four hits and was a triple shy of the cycle. Jacobs notched three hits and drove in a run to finish an eight-hit series. Curt Smith passed Pichi Balet for the third most doubles after collecting his 77th two-bagger.
Speaking of Balet, the former Saltdogs star signed with the Railroaders and was their DH on Monday night. The Lincoln resident is 39 years old and has not played professional baseball since 2009. He was 2-4 with a couple of singles to right field.
The Saltdogs are now 2.5 games ahead in the American Association’s Central Division but travel to second place Kansas City on Tuesday. First pitch is at 7:05 PM with coverage beginning at 6:35 PM on ESPN 1480 and saltdogs.com.
The Saltdogs return home on Friday to face the Wichita Wingnuts. Tickets are on sale and can be purchased by calling (402) 474-2255 or visiting Saltdogs.com. For the latest information on the Saltdogs follow the team on Facebook and Twitter/Instagram @saltdogsball.