CLEBURNE, TX – The Lincoln Saltdogs (49-30) fought back from a 6-1 deficit to tie the game but couldn’t complete the rally in a 7-6 loss to the Cleburne Railroaders (38-45) on Tuesday night.
The win gave the Railroaders the series victory, ending a streak of 10 series without a series loss for the Saltdogs. Lincoln last lost a series from July 3-5 against the Texas AirHogs in Grand Prairie.
Ty’Relle Harris struggled in his debut for the Saltdogs. The right-hander allowed six runs on eight hits over 3.2 innings pitched. He walked one and struck out one.
The Railroaders jumped on him early. After a walk and hit by pitch started the bottom of the first, Nick Van Stratten and Axel Johnson each notched hits to knock in three runs.
They scored again in the second inning. K.C. Huth started the frame with a single and Alex Polston doubled him home to make it a three-run lead for Cleburne.
The Saltdogs scraped across a run in the top of the third. Ivan Marin and Joe Robbins started the inning with base hits before Cesar Valera was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Railroaders starter Alberto Rodriguez struck out two of the next three batters and escaped allowing just one run on a Randolph Oduber sacrifice fly.
Cleburne continued their hitting in the bottom of the fourth. They scored two runs on four hits to go ahead 6-1. The Railroaders collected 10 hits in the first four innings.
Lincoln started its comeback in the top of the fifth. Robbins walked to start the inning. Then, Valera was hit by a pitch for the second time in the game. He took a few steps towards the pitcher with his hands out and started yelling. That prompted Curt Smith to run in front of Valera to make sure he didn’t go further. Then, the benches cleared and came on to the field. They retreated to the dugout shortly after entering the field and home plate umpire Joe Stegner issued warnings to both sides.
Rodriguez hit the next batter, Smith, on a 2-1 pitch and was ejected. Next, Oduber hit into a double play but knocked in a run and another run scored on a passed ball to make it 6-3.
The Saltdogs chipped away some more in the top of the sixth. Dashenko Ricardo coaxed a two-out walk and moved to second on another passed ball. Then, Marin carried a double to the left field wall to score Ricardo and cut the lead to just two runs.
Lincoln tied it up in the seventh. Smith doubled, Oduber singled and Smith scored on a sacrifice fly. Oduber came home on a single by Brandon Jacobs to even the score.
Ricardo doubled to start the eighth and moved to third base on a bunt but the Saltdogs couldn’t get him home to take the lead.
The Railroaders ran in a run in the bottom half of the eighth. Axel Johnson singled to start the inning and Huth drew a one-out walk. Then, they executed a double steal to move to second and third. Johnson scored on a passed ball to take the 7-6 lead.
Railroaders closer Winston Abreu mowed down the Saltdogs in the top of the ninth to record his league-best 20th save.
Despite losing the series, the Saltdogs still own a three-game lead on the Kansas City T-Bones in the Central Division standings.
The Saltdogs turn to Derek Gordon on Wednesday night to try to avoid the sweep. First pitch is at 7:06 PM with coverage beginning at 6:35 PM on ESPN 1480 and saltdogs.com.
The team returns to Lincoln to face the Gary SouthShore RailCats on Monday, August 21st. 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.