For the first 23 innings of the Texas League Championship Series, it felt like Arkansas had fewer hits than Chumbawamba.
In the sixth inning of Game 3, C.J. Cron and the rest of the Travelers finally got around to thumping a few baseballs.
The Angels' No. 2 prospect belted a two-run homer to cap a three-run sixth inning as Arkansas posted a 4-1 victory over San Antonio. Cron added a double in the eighth as the Travelers took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-5 Finals.
Arkansas and San Antonio split the first two games, with each team posting a 1-0 win.
Cron's long ball came off Missions starter Donn Roach and gave the Travelers a 3-1 lead. Roach, a sinker-balling right-hander, had been attacking Cron away for most of the game. He stuck to that strategy in the sixth after falling into a 2-0 hole but left the pitch over the plate for Cron to mash over the right-center field fence.
Missions center fielder Rico Noel chased after the opposite-field blast and tumbled over the four-foot wall at Dickey-Stephens Park.
"The guys in the bullpen told me he missed it by about a foot," Cron said. "All I saw was him go down as he flew over the wall. I was hoping he didn't catch it, and then I saw the first-base umpire say he didn't catch it."
The homer was Cron's third of the postseason. In fact, Arkansas is responsible for all seven homers hit in the Texas League playoffs.
The three-run sixth spoiled what had been a stellar outing for Roach. The former Angels prospect, who was traded to San Diego for Ernesto Frieri last season, limited Arkansas to one hit over the first five innings. Cron was the final batter Roach (0-1) faced as he was charged with three runs on four hits over 5 1/3 frames.
Cron again used the right side of the field for his double in the eighth. With none out and pinch-runner Ryan Jones at first, he worked the count full before fouling off six consecutive pitches, many of which zipped straight back into the netting behind home plate.
Jones was running on each of the 3-2 pitches Cron fouled off but stayed put on the seventh as Cron mashed a line drive into the right-field corner. Jones ran through the third-base coach's stop sign and couldn't retreat before catcher Austin Hedges threw back to third.
For Cron, going opposite field for a pair of extra-base hits wasn't anything unusual.
"That's kind of where my power is, is in the gaps," he said. "I don't hook balls down the line for home runs, I try to hit the ball to the middle of the field. If it's off-speed, I kind of like to let the slowness of the pitch dictate whether to pull or not. Today, they were throwing me middle-away and I was just taking what I was given."
Angels No. 5 prospect Randal Grichuk went 2-for-4 with an RBI. Mark Sappington, the organization's sixth-ranked prospect limited San Antonio to four hits over five innings but issued five walks.
Rico Noel doubled twice and Jake Blackwood scored the Missions' lone run.
Game 4 is Saturday at Arkansas.