Where Baseball is TONS of Fun!

By: Cade Haak

FORT SMITH, Arkansas (June 7th, 2024) – In game two of the four-game series in Fort Smith, the Texarkana Rhinos were able to find the win column for the second time this season. The Rhinos won 3-2, largely due to a commanding performance on the mound by Brandon Cardenas.

Brandon Cardenas was given the starting nod in the ball game against the Marshals, and from the first pitch to his last, he was the driving force for the Rhinos en route to victory. Cardenas’ final numbers for the night stood tall at 8.0 innings pitched, 5 hits, 2 runs allowed, and 5 strikeouts. 

The pace started slow for both teams, with just five hits combined for the two teams through the first four and a half innings, but the Marshals were first to strike when Ethan Whatley singled into centerfield to drive in Austin Rabago for the first run of the game. Following the single, Cardenas was able to quickly right the ship and allow the Rhinos bats to take their turn at the plate again. 

The Rhinos wasted no time taking the lead back in their favor in the top of the sixth, where they were able to tally two runs of their own. The two runs came off the bat of Yuto Mimura, who was able to catch a pitch early and drive it well into right field for a two-RBI hit that cleared the base path by bringing in both Rylan Evans and Gabriel Natividad. Next, the bottom of the sixth saw the Marshals score the equalizing run when Tanner Callahan doubled to score Tre’en Dorsett, who had tripled to start off the inning. 

Innings seven and eight remained quiet as neither team was able to string together enough quality at-bats to score, but in the ninth, the excitement ramped back up for Texarkana fans. Ethan Clark came in as the closer for Fort Smith and immediately got off to an ideal start by getting easy outs against the first two Rhinos he faced before Matt Beuka drew a walk following a drawn-out at-bat. To continue the two-out rally, Bueka advanced to second on a wild pitch and was subsequently driven home on a single by Antonio Sabala that had just enough carry to fall between the center and left fielders as they gave chase to the ball. 

At the start of the ninth inning, the Rhinos brought in just the second pitcher of the day to finally relieve Cardenas. Landon Richey made his move from the bullpen to the mound, but immediately got off to a shaky start by walking Tanner Callahan to start the inning. The next two hitters’ attempts both resulted in ground ball outs, but Idelfonso Diaz, who was pinch running for Callahan, was able to get into scoring position at second base. Next, Ethan Whatley was able to single to keep the game alive for the Marshals, but overzealous baserunning by Fort Smith proved to be their demise as Diaz, attempting to score, got himself into a rundown between third base and home that resulted in the final out of the ball game and allowed the Rhinos to walk away with a series-tying win in game two. 

Next Up for Texarkana:

The Rhinos will attempt to use this victory to build momentum in the next two games of the four-game series in Fort Smith before coming home to host the Joplin Outlaws in a three-game series on June 11th, 12th, and 13th. 

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