LINCOLN, NE – Chase Simpson blasted a couple of two-run home runs and the Lincoln Saltdogs came from behind to beat the Cleburne Railroaders 9-7 on Friday night.
It took all three of Lincoln’s (13-8) homers to overcome mistakes and a scrappy Railroaders (8-12) squad. A season-high crowd of 5,124 fans watched an up-and-down affair that featured four lead changes and five home runs. Jose Jose earned the win with a perfect inning of relief. J.R. Bunda notched his fifth save with a scoreless ninth inning in which he struck out the final two batters.
The wild game started as a pitcher’s duel. Chevy Clarke broke through in the fourth inning for Cleburne. He pounded a solo home run in his second at bat as a member of the Railroaders.
The Saltdogs came to life in the bottom of the fourth. Simpson walked to start the inning then Jacobs launched a homer to give Lincoln the 2-1 lead.
Lincoln added to the lead in the fifth. This time Chad Hinshaw drew a walk and Simpson drove one over the right field wall to make it 4-1.
The lead was short-lived as Lincoln’s miscues caught up to them in the sixth. Alex Polston singled to start the inning then Cameron Monger reached on an error. After a bunt, Saltdogs starter hit a batter to load the bases. Brian Loconsole came on in relief and gave up an RBI single to Trevor Sealey. Then, Patrick Palmeiro creamed a grand slam to flip the score and make it 6-4.
The Saltdogs tied it up in the bottom half of the inning. Nathaniel Maggio and Dashenko Ricardo started the inning with singles. Then, Omar Obregon laid a bunt down and the Cleburne pitcher threw the ball wide of third base allowing Maggio to score and make it a one-run game. But the Saltdogs were unable to score another urn and left the bases loaded.
The Railroaders kept the see-saw game going with a run in the seventh. Former Husker Jake Hohensee made his professional debut and walked Polston. Next, Monger ripped a double to give the Railroaders a 7-5 advantage. Lincoln turned its second double play to get out of the inning.
Lincoln tacked on another run in the seventh. This time Ricardo singled in Angel Reyes to make it 7-6. But for the second straight inning, the Saltdogs left the bases loaded.
Jose worked a perfect eighth and the Saltdogs were finally able to cash in in the bottom half. Curt Smith walked to start the inning then Simpson went deep for the second time to give Lincoln the one-run lead. Reyes reached on a single and stole second base before Ricardo knocked him in for an insurance run.
Bunda let the tying run reach the plate in the ninth, but just like Wednesday night, he struck out the final two batters to get the save.
Christian Ibarra was 0-5 and lost his 13-game hit streak on Friday night. He failed to reach base for the first time this season.
The Saltdogs look to clinch their fourth straight series win on Saturday night. MLB legend Rafael Palmeiro has a chance to play for Cleburne. First pitch is at 7:05 PM and coverage begins at 6:35 PM on ESPN 101.5 FM 1480 AM and saltdogs.com.