LITTLE ROCK - The Arkansas Travelers stayed red hot closing down their home stand with an 8-3 victory over the Corpus Christi Hooks on Sunday evening at Dickey-Stephens Park. Eight Travelers had a base hit to lead a 13-hit barrage to finish a three-game sweep of the Hooks and a 5-1 home stand. Kramer Sneed (7-9) held the Hooks to one run on two hits in six innings to earn the victory.
Brian Hernandez lifted his fifth home run of the season amongst two base hits on a day when five Travs had at least two base hits. Alex Yarbrough tied for the Texas League lead with his 64th RBI and extended his lead in base hits (135) with a pair of singles. Mike Bianucci recorded two RBI to extend a streak of games with an RBI to six.
For the third game of the series a Hooks player hit a first-inning home run, this time coming from right fielder Leo Heras. He hit a two-out long ball (5) to right field, but the Travs came right back and tied the game in the bottom of the first inning.
Yarbrough hit a one-out single and scored from first base when Bianucci blooped a two-out single that snuck under Heras's glove on a diving attempt in right field.
The Travs rallied for four runs against Mark Appel in the third inning. The rally began when Hernandez chopped a one-out base hit up the middle, but hustled into second base for a double when Tesocar Hernandez jogged after the ball. Bianucci then lined double to the right field corner to bring Hernandez home with a double. Matt Long laid down a bunt along the third-base path for a single that sent Bianucci to third base. Appel uncorked a wild pitch to score Bianucci and move Long to second base. Anderson De La Rosa capped the rally with a two-out double to score Long for a 4-1 lead.
Sneed set down nine of the first 11 Hooks batters before putting Heras aboard to begin the fourth inning with a walk then moved him to second with no outs on a wild pitch. Corpus Christi still failed to score on Sneed, who got Telvin Nash to fly out. Colin Moran grounded out to shortstop and Brandeon Meredith flied out to center.
The only inning Corpus Christi had two men on base was the fifth inning with a walk to Carlos Perdomo and a two-out single by Tony Kemp that put runners at the corners. Sneed though caught Teoscar Hernandez looking on strikes for the third out. Sneed got around a leadoff walk in the sixth inning with all three Travs outfielders recording a putout from the next three batters.
Appel, who took the loss in his first Class-AA decision, finished strong by retiring his last five batters. Still the Travs scored four runs against him over five innings on eight base hits and a walk. Appel struck out seven batters including his last three.
Corpus Christi had Colton Cain relieve for the sixth inning, and the Travs scored four times in his first inning. Drew Heid hit a single with one out then scored when Eric Stamets doubled to left field. A groundout by Maikol Gonzalez sent Stamets to third base and a two-out single from Yarbrough scored him. Hernandez followed with a home run to left field on a 2-0 pitch to extend the lead to 8-1.
Carmine Giardina pitched the seventh inning and set down the bottom three of the Hooks order in a row. But Teoscar Hernandez hit a one-out solo home run (2) off him in the eighth inning. Giardina then walked two in a row and gave up an RBI single to Colin Moran. With the lead cut to 8-3, the Travs turned to Kurt Spomer who induced Meredith to ground into a double play. Spomer closed the game with a perfect ninth inning.
With wins in 22 of 28 games, the Travs remain in first place in the Texas League North with 21 games to play at 30-19 in the second half. Their overall record is third-best in the Texas League at 64-55. Heading into an off day that they'll spend in San Antonio before getting back on the field against the Missions on Tuesday.