TEXAS LEAGUE BASEBALL: RockHounds take South Division race down to final day of first half

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. There will be a whole lot of scoreboard watching around the Texas League on Monday, and the first-half race in the South Division still may not be decided.
The Midland RockHounds were denied a chance to clinch the first-half division title Sunday after a 5-2 loss Sunday to the Arkansas Travelers in the finale of their series at Dickey-Stephens Park.
That left the RockHounds a half-game ahead of Amarillo, which rallied to beat Tulsa 2-1, and a game up on Frisco, which had its game against Northwest Arkansas cancelled because of rain. Corpus Christi was eliminated from the title hunt with its loss at Springfield.
Midland, Amarillo and Frisco now have Monday’s games to determine which team, if any, will win the first half. The RockHounds open a seven-game homestand against Springfield at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Security Bank Ballpark, while Amarillo visits Northwest Arkansas and Frisco visits Tulsa.
The second half of the season begins Tuesday.
Midland wins the division by beating Springfield, which has the league’s worst record but has won four in a row, or by Amarillo and Frisco both losing on Monday.
Amarillo wins the division if it beats Northwest Arkansas and Midland loses.
Frisco can tie Midland for first place with a victory at Tulsa and losses by the RockHounds and Amarillo. If that happens, the winner of the first meeting between Midland and Frisco during the second half will be the first-half winner, according to Texas League bylaws. The RockHounds visit the RoughRiders on June 27 to open a four-game series.
While Midland and Frisco played 23 times in the first half with the RoughRiders holding a 12-11 edge, the series at the end of this month will be their only meeting in the second half.
In Sunday’s game, Arkansas, which clinched the North Division a week earlier, used a four-run third inning to salvage the series finale after Midland won the first two games. Donnie Walton went 3 for 3, Evan White drove in two runs and Darren McCaughan pitched into the seventh for the Travelers.
Midland’s Luis Barrera, who tripled in every game of the series, went 2 for 5 and drove in both RockHounds runs. Kevin Merrell went 2 for 4.
The Travelers took the lead for good in the third on Walton’s RBI double off RockHounds starter Brian Howard. White followed with a two-run triple and Jake Fraley added a run-scoring single.
Barrera put Midland on the board in the fifth with an RBI single. Arkansas added Kyle Lewis’ RBI double in the eighth before Barrera tripled in a run in the ninth.
McCaughan (6-3) struck out seven while holding Midland to a run on six hits and a walk over 6.1 innings.
Howard (5-4) was charged with four runs on five hits over six innings. He struck out seven and walked three.